Tanzania and China sign port development package

By Deodatus Balile in Dar es Salaam

March 27, 2013

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A 1.28-trillion shilling ($800 million) bilateral package of infrastructure development deals signed this week between Dar es Salaam and Beijing will spur Tanzania's economy forward, Tanzanian officials said.

  • Chinese President Xi Jinping shakes hands with greeters as he and Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete (right) walk the red carpet upon Xi's arrival at Julius Nyerere International Airport in Dar Es Salaam on March 24th. [AFP/John Lukuwi]

    Chinese President Xi Jinping shakes hands with greeters as he and Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete (right) walk the red carpet upon Xi's arrival at Julius Nyerere International Airport in Dar Es Salaam on March 24th. [AFP/John Lukuwi]

Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete and Chinese President Xi Jinping signed 16 agreements for development projects on mainland Tanzania and three agreements for Zanzibar during Xi's state visit to Dar es Salaam on March 24th-25th.

The deals clear the way for China to finance and build a 16-trillion shilling ($10 billion) port at Bagamoyo and other infrastructure projects.

"President Xi's visit is historic," Tanzania's Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation Bernard Membe told Sabahi. "Apart from unveiling China's policy towards Africa through Tanzania, Tanzania has signed with China 19 valuable agreements. An agreement like that of the port of Bagamoyo [project] is a lifelong investment."

Scheduled for completion by 2017, the port at Bagamoyo -- northwest of Dar es Salaam -- will be able to handle twenty times more cargo than the port in the Tanzanian capital, which is the country's largest port.

"The port [at Bagamoyo] will be of high standards. We are building a fourth generation port," said Tanzania's Ambassador to China Philip Marmo. "It will handle 20 million containers a year, compared to [the port] of Dar es Salaam, which is handling only 800,000 containers a year."

The port construction project will include the building of a new 34-kilometre road joining Bagamoyo to Mlandizi and 65 kilometres of railway connecting Bagamoyo to the Tanzania-Zambia Railway (TAZARA) and Central Railway, Marmo told Sabahi.

The bilateral deals call for China to commit 800 billion Tanzanian shillings ($500 million) in 2013 for starting the port construction, he said.

The rest of the Chinese financial aid package will follow in 2014 and 2015, according to Membe.

Other projects under the Chinese-Tanzanian agreements include the creation of a modern agricultural and industrialisation zone, interest-free loans and loan agreements between the Export-Import Bank of China and the Bank of Tanzania, the establishment of a Chinese cultural centre in Tanzania, the rehabilitation of the Abdullah Mzee Hospital in Zanzibar, and the provision of shipping container inspection equipment for the port of Zanzibar, the Tanzanian foreign minister said.

A world-class port

The Chinese stand to gain from Tanzania's future port at Bagamoyo because it would facilitate China-bound shipments of minerals from Zambia, Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo via the Indian Ocean, Marmo said.

The new port also would transform Bagamoyo into an East African hub for Indian Ocean shipments to and from six of Tanzania's mostly landlocked neighbours, ease congestion at the Dar es Salaam port and make Tanzania's import-export sector more efficient, said Vincent Nyerere, a parliamentarian and businessman.

Tanzania is losing a lot of trade and commerce because of inefficiency at the port of Dar es Salaam, Nyerere told Sabahi.

The neighbouring countries of Malawi, Zambia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda would like to export and import products via Tanzania, the shortest and most viable route to the Indian Ocean, Nyerere said. But for now, these countries must do with the Kenyan port of Mombasa and the South African port of Durban, which are more distant and costly routes.

Kikwete thanked China for its decision to help Tanzania improve its infrastructure and provide access to interest-free or low-interest loans, as long as the bilateral relationship serves "the interests of Tanzania".

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Reader's Comments

  • Davidi Mpanilehi
    November 19, 2013 @ 12:35:52PM

    Many congratulations to the Tanzanian government for securing contracts with China. China doesn't play with African lives. We have seen how it helped Kenya in road construction.

  • african
    September 16, 2013 @ 05:40:44AM

    This will be a neo-colonialism, you will see how Tanzania will lose its souvereignty, chinese are not here to develop africa, they just to get raw materials and transport more and more chinese populations to africa. Wake up african people!!!!

  • Faustine Rwambali
    August 27, 2013 @ 03:03:37AM

    Oh! Sorry Mombasa!

  • Saidi Hussein Nungu
    July 11, 2013 @ 03:14:03AM

    The project is well come and indeed will releave congestion at Dar es salaam port.Parallel to this In land container DEPOTs far from Bagamoyo i.e having a big ICD at Chalinze/Mlandizi to take out cargoes from Bagamoyo port.

  • CB
    May 27, 2013 @ 09:08:51AM

    Where can I get more informative details of these 19 agreements? Also its weird that this article only focuses on Tanzanian benefits from the deals, I want to know everything China gets.

    May 21, 2013 @ 07:19:54AM

    Government should be free and open in all contracts with super powers. My main argument is about transparency in the benefits those countries are getting, and their great emphasis natural resources and market for Tanzania.

  • eugene edward
    April 29, 2013 @ 04:19:38PM

    i would like to to direct my pitch on one issue on this conversation.i believe every opinion of Tanzanians is good for the welfare of the country, but i dont understand why some of us try to connect the bagamoyo project with the origins of our president...i think we can really bring out constructive discussions to help our nation and not destroying it, these comments make me to believe that even Hon.Benjamin Mkapa could have signed this kind of project, some of us would have rise the same criticism as on this case at hand.i therefore urge my fellow brothers to be more realistic on issues which really need realistic approach rather than...

  • Paul Mshana
    April 28, 2013 @ 06:50:39AM

    There is no free lunch. China knows what it needs. Why it doesn't use that money to eradicate poverty in Peking!! Chinese are not friends - it is a business with long term and big objectives!

  • Gerald james kazimoto
    April 26, 2013 @ 07:31:21PM


  • bashir vamdume
    April 20, 2013 @ 02:39:14PM

    Why is everything about Bagamoyo? It is better that he finishes his term. The contract is for him and his country, Bagamoyo. Why didn't he expand Mtwara or Tanga habor?

  • Moses
    April 16, 2013 @ 07:58:01AM

    Where in Bagamoyo will it be built?

  • omari
    April 15, 2013 @ 03:58:21AM

    This is the justice of the union: 16 contracts for Tanzania mainland, three for Zanzibar. Congratulations Tanzania mainland for being intelligent and being kind to your country. It is a pity to Zanzibaris for seeing these and being happy for this union which leaves Zanzibaris with their poverty day after day. Go on, arrest your citizens and charge them without having done a crime. Why are there killings in Tanzania mainland and no one is arrested and they just keep doing investigations?

  • Rashid juma
    April 14, 2013 @ 03:49:01PM

    That is great and we are improuving our country from begining up to end of our favorite. The only thing that from my hurt is let us wark togather and give suport to our leader. That it. Rashid juma.

  • Kisendis
    April 12, 2013 @ 02:44:34PM

    On my side, I think it would be better to build a high level harbour because that's the beginning of development. Many people think their government is doing nothing but I am happy with sustainable plans which will help us all. God bless Tanzania.

  • mustapha saidi
    April 10, 2013 @ 12:09:38PM

    It is a good thing done by leaders from both sides. Between the Tanzanian government and the Chinese government we need to see them implement and not sign contracts and leave them to rot in offices

  • Jackson charles
    April 7, 2013 @ 04:33:04PM

    I do not support these two sides to work together for improving Tanzanian economy, because are there only for business achievement. When they get it, they will abandon them.

  • katadi
    April 7, 2013 @ 03:58:31PM

    Gas will not go out of Mtwara through a pipeline. Take gas from Mkuranga. Makondes and the people of south, in general, we need huge development programmes. History will not repeat itself for easily taking away our resources. There is no development project which was built at gun point in history. Even Mussolini didn't use your tactics. We, people of the southern region say our gas will not leave Mtwara.

  • Frans vermalene
    April 6, 2013 @ 05:28:14AM

    It is a low interest loan signed,so there is no need to worry,it is beneficial to us.

    April 5, 2013 @ 01:06:33AM

    I would advise leaders to stop favoring their places of birth and instead, they should work on the areas which will generate income and benefits to the nation and not otherwise.

  • Lugome Vintan
    April 4, 2013 @ 10:34:48AM

    If we are given aid money without interest, why is the government not stopping to go to Washington DC borrowing money from IMF and World Bank with huge interest? Be aware, wake up Tanganyikans. China is our true friend even if it will also be benefit from those projects.

  • emmanuel joseph
    April 3, 2013 @ 01:28:34AM

    Our president is working hard to improve our country and we are behind him to make sure that Tanzania is moving on.

  • George G Massawe
    April 2, 2013 @ 12:57:06AM

    A friend in need is a friend indeed. China is a true friend. God bless the People's Republic of China. God bless Tanzania.

  • Peter Rusibamayila
    April 1, 2013 @ 09:34:05AM

    I think they would build Mtwara harbour that has already a deep sea na it could solve container traffic in Dar es Salaam. All southern countries would use it and we would save our roads.

  • Ubwa
    April 1, 2013 @ 04:42:36AM

    Hurry up in building us schools so we can study.

  • hamza
    March 31, 2013 @ 04:44:23PM

    that greaty thing,but there is longterm plan,even development might take place but exploitation could be there.....

  • ally issa
    March 31, 2013 @ 01:44:44PM

    why always bagamoyo what the reason behind..why should not invest and build port at kilwa or mtwara because those areas are close to unlocked countries..

  • Barnabas Wandwi
    March 31, 2013 @ 05:20:47AM

    The haters may go on hating but this is the reality and this is how its going to be. Even if you were the republic Tanganyikans' president and you come from the center of this Republic, you would attract every meaningful thing to your home. I am congratulating JK for signing an agreement with the Chinese president on Bagamoyo harbor!! Did you want him to build port at Tarime or Butiama so you could praise him???????? Don't have that poor mind of "the why!"

  • mtanzania
    March 29, 2013 @ 12:01:06PM

    Tanzania would be a sufficient example for the East African countries, but leaders are mostly working without considering improving environment and our economy apart from their business. Many are using their government positions for protecting their property only because they are in the government so they cover it even if there are mistakes. It not strange that they use public fund for their personal matters. If you do not believe, visit some public officers in their offices and then to their private offices and see the difference. Do you think the government does not have money to improve its places? Or the responsible persons take the fund located for government offices to their private offices hence government offices drop down. I advise that you look at such people, so it does not happen the way it was during Mkapa's rule, when he did not care to inherit good things to his people and built houses in South Africa instead. We, Tanzanians, have a habit of swallowing things and looking when things get worse. We are more aggressive in speaking but less in doing and that is not correct.

  • wiz kig
    March 29, 2013 @ 04:22:50AM

    Is there any significance of building a seaport at Bagamoyo while there is already one in Dar es Salaam? What about Mtwara and Tanga?

    March 28, 2013 @ 01:51:12AM

    is it not the way to take our gas to china?

  • Issa
    March 28, 2013 @ 01:18:47AM

    The policy is exploitative in nature

  • Barnabas Kabuzya.
    March 28, 2013 @ 12:39:54AM

    Fantastic news, Tanzanians should take up this opportunity to look out for employment opportunities. Come on wake up Tanzanians.

  • galacha mcbetty
    March 28, 2013 @ 12:01:54AM

    It will boost country's economy.

  • Abdul Galacha
    March 27, 2013 @ 11:59:15PM

    It will b the business country in East Africa according their road and port infrastructures.

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