French companies open to talks over Bagamoyo Port

Sunday February 20 2022
French Ambassador

French Ambassador to Tanzania Nabil Hajlaoui, speaks to The Citizen’s Managing Editor, Mr Mpoki Thomson, in an exclusive interview in Dar es Salaam on Friday. PHOTO | SUNDAY GEORGE

By Alex Nelson Malanga

Dar es Salaam. Big French companies will initiate discussions with the government in the coming few weeks on the possibility for them to be part of building and operating the $10 billion (about Sh23 trillion) Bagamoyo Port, The Citizen has learnt.

Part of the discussions, a result of President Samia Suluhu Hassan’s visit to France earlier this week, will also be on how French investors could take part in shaping all Tanzanian ports, in an effort to make Tanzania a transport and logistic hub in the East African region.

This was revealed on Friday by the French Ambassador to Tanzania, Mr Nabil Hajlaoui, in an exclusive sideline interview with The Citizen during a media briefing on the successful state visit to France by President Hassan.

The Ambassador said they were going to discuss who was going to build the project, the modality to be used and through which funding.

“French investors are ready to be part of the project. They want to put money on the table and discuss what they can do together,” noted Mr Hajlaoui.

He said they had people in the private sector, who were willing to invest in the form of the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement.

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The government signed a framework agreement in 2013 with China Merchants Holdings International (CMHI) and Oman’s State General Reserve Fund to build the port and a special economic zone as part of efforts to transform Tanzania into a trade and logistics hub in the region.

But the Fifth Phase regime of the late John Magufuli dismissed the project, saying it was exploitative and inappropriate.

However, President Hassan, who ascended to the Presidency on March 19, 2021 following the death of her predecessor, Dr Magufuli, said the Bagamoyo Port project should be implemented for the benefit of the country.

For their side, he said French major companies would discuss how they could take part in developing other ports namely Dar es Salaam, Mtwara and Tanga.

“French investors are going to open up negotiations about the interests that they had shown during the meeting of President Samia in France,” said Ambassador Hajlaoui.

He said the French government was more than willing to support Tanzania’s drive in making the East African nation the economic, transport and logistic hub.

This will work through creating room for its investors to invest in ports, railway, airports, and maritime logistics.

“Tanzania has every reason to attract investors and become the regional hub. Tanzania can have very high marks when it comes to conducive business,” noted the Ambassador.

He explained that President Hassan’s strong commitment to improve the business environment would make the country a better investment destination than the neighboring countries.

“Investors are attracted by a clear legal framework, policy predictability, transparency in the rule of law and fair competition and Tanzania is faring well in those areas.

“Investors want a kind of administration that can solve their problems. They want to have a guarantee of their investment’s return,” pointed out Mr Hajlaoui.

He said in an effort to upscale trade and economic ties with Tanzania, a big delegation from France involving the business community and high profile leaders would be expected to land in Tanzania in mid-May. “They will be here to explore opportunities in various projects,” he hinted, noting in doing so, it would aid to take up trade volume between the two countries.

Official data have it that last year Tanzania’s export value to France stood at $35 million (about Sh80.5 billion), while its imports was quoted at $60 million (Sh138 billion).

“We need to do more and we can do it by increasing investments here,” said the Ambassador.


Additional report by Ewen Le Clec’h