Tanzania Says Resumes Talks for $10 Billion China-Backed Port

Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan said her government has resumed talks on a planned $10 billion port project backed by China, which was suspended by her predecessor in a disagreement over terms.

Hassan told business leaders in the commercial hub Dar es Salaam on Saturday that her government “has started talks to revive the Bagamoyo port project.”

China Merchants Holdings International, China’s largest port operator, broke ground for the port and special economic zone in October 2015, but the project hit an impasse after the inauguration of President John Magufuli a month later. The project is also financially backed by Oman’s State General Reserve Fund.

The site of the proposed port is located 75 kilometers (47 miles) north of Dar es Salaam, the country’s main port, which importers have complained is inefficient and congested.

Magufuli favoured expansion and upgrading of the Dar es Salaam facility rather than building a new port. But since coming to office after Magufuli’s death in March, Hassan has swiftly moved to fast-track several large projects that had been stalled.

They include a $30 billion liquefied natural gas terminal developed by Equinor ASA, Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Exxon Mobil Corp. and other partners, and a $3 billion joint venture with China’s Sichuan Hongda Co. for an iron ore and coal mine.

Magufuli said in 2019 that “only a madman” would agree to the conditions of the Bagamoyo port deal. Some he publicly rejected included granting a 99-year land lease to the Chinese investors, which he said was contrary to the country’s laws.

But Hassan announced that her government has decided to revive the project “for the benefit of Tanzania.” She didn’t disclose the terms of the new negotiations.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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