Tanzania Plans Largest Port On East African Coast Line

Tanzania Plans Largest Port On East African Coast Line

From Reuters

In its heyday, Bagamayo was a gateway to the heart of Africa for colonizers, with trade goods surging in from the Indian Ocean, and timber, ivory and countless slaves exported from the east coast harbor.

Then Bagamoyo, which looks out towards the island of Zanzibar, fell on lean times for more than a century. Now Tanzania plans an $11 billion project to make it the region’s biggest port and an engine of Africa’s boom.

The Chinese-backed project would dwarf Kenya’s port at Mombasa, east Africa’s trade gateway some 300 km (180 miles) to the north, and include an industrial zone and rail and road links to capitalize on growth in a region hoping to exploit new oil and gas finds.

“It will be the engine for economic activity not only for Bagamoyo but for the entire region,” said district executive Ibrahim Matovu, speaking from offices overlooking beaches where ship-builders hammer out wooden dhows as they have for centuries.

Many doubt the plan can succeed and ask if Bagamoyo is even the right location for a port, given it is just 75 km (50 miles) up the coast from Dar es Salaam and far from gas deposits off Tanzania’s southern coast.

Politics also plays a role.

President Jakaya Kikwete comes from Bagamoyo and many see the port as his legacy project. But a groundbreaking ceremony was delayed from July and the project is unlikely to be revived during an election season that culminates in October, when his successor will be chosen.

Read more at Reuters