Tanzania had started construction work on a $10 billion port and special economic zone, a project backed by China and Oman that aims to transform the East African country into a regional trade and transport hub.
The port, which will be Tanzania’s biggest, is being built at Bagamoyo, 75 km (47 miles) north of Dar-es-Salaam – the commercial capital that is currently the site of the country’s main port, which is operating beyond its capacity with limited space for expansion.
President Jakaya Kikwete attended a groundbreaking ceremony and said construction of phase I of the project would take 3 years. “The construction of the Bagamoyo port and a special economic zone is aimed at realising the government’s goal of bringing about an industrial revolution in Tanzania,” he said.
Government officials said the port would be able to handle mega-ships – with a container vessel size of 8,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) – after the first phase was completed, with room for expansion. The whole project including roads, railways and the economic zone is expected to take 10 years to complete, but it was unclear in how many phases it will be carried out. The project is financially backed by China Merchants Holdings (International), China’s largest port operator, whom will handle much of the construction work; and Oman’s State General Reserve Fund.
Jianhua Hu, executive vice-president of China Merchants Holdings, said implementation of the project marked “the most significant event” in Tanzania-China relations over the past 4 decades.
The town of Bagamoyo, Tanzania, was founded at the end of the 18th century. It was the original capital of German East Africa and was one of the most important trading ports along the East African coast. Today the town has about 30,000 inhabitants and is the capital of the Bagamoyo District, recently being considered as a world heritage site.