Confusion over East Africa’s China-backed mega port scheme, Bagamoyo
The future of East Africa’s biggest port project, Bagamoyo in Tanzania, was thrown into confusion last week after a government minister said the $11bn scheme would be suspended, only to be contradicted by his government the following day.
Minister for works, transport and communications said attention would be diverted from Bagamoyo to upgrading existing ports at Dar es Salaam and Mtwara Port.
Next day the government of Tanzania issued a statement saying preparatory work begun in October 2015 would continue, and that construction of the port would begin in July upon conclusion of financing negotiations with key partners.
The statement added that a joint working team comprising technical people from Tanzania, China and Oman is preparing technical and commercial contracts for the implementation of the port.
Work started in October 2015 on the megaport which was to be funded in part by China and Oman.
Set on 800 hectares, with another 1,700 hectares set aside for a new special economic zone, the port was set to handle 20 times more cargo than the old port at Dar es Salaam, now operating beyond its capacity.
Tanzania is hoping to cash in on recently discovered natural gas deposits, but the global slump in commodity prices, including for oil and gas, may be putting pressure on its plans for expensive industrial schemes.