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China joins funding for port expansion project in Cote d’Ivoire

The Export-Import Bank of China has provided a loan of around $875 million to Cote d’Ivoire for the construction of a second container terminal at the state-owned port of Abidjan, the port’s director-general has said.

Hien Yacouba Sie told a press conference that the loan was part of an international financing package designed to increase the port’s handling capacity, Reuters reported.

Sie said the total cost of the expansion project would be around 466 billion Central African francs (XAF) ($880 million).

Sie said construction work will include the enlargement of the Vridi canal and a roll on-roll off (roro) terminal. Construction is expected to start in the first quarter of 2015 and be completed by 2021, Sie said.

Last year, the Abidjan Port Authority signed a public-private partnership contract for the second container terminal with a consortium led by Bollore of France. Bollore said the project “will equip the port with a deepwater container terminal capable of accommodating large-capacity ships carrying up to 8,500 twenty-foot equivalent containers”.

The terminal will also provide the port facility “with one of West Africa's most state-of-the-art trans-shipment platforms, offering a capacity of over two million containers”, Bollore said.

Last July, the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) said it had arranged a €200m syndicated bridge financing facility for advance payments and related costs for the port’s expansion, including the construction of the second container terminal and the roro terminal by the China Harbour Engineering Company Ltd.

According to Afreximbank, Abidjan port began operations in 1951. The bank said the port is “one of Africa’s busiest” in terms of volume and “serves as a major international trans-shipment and transit traffic hub through which 70% of the foreign trade of hinterland countries including Burkina Faso and Mali passes”.

Cote d’Ivoire is among several countries in sub-Saharan Africa that are expected to see faster economic growth than any other region by 2040, according to a report by professional services firm PwC.

PwC said Abidjan is one of the so-called ‘next 10’ cities in the region where foreign investors will be attracted to the “untapped potential” of opportunities.

The International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) Regional Economic Outlook for Sub Saharan Africa (116-page / 2.53 MB PDF), published last May, said economic activity in the region continues to be underpinned by large investments in infrastructure, mining and maturing investments.

IMF managing director Christine Lagarde said “promising developments” in the region included regional infrastructure projects in electricity, and road and railroad networks in Kenya and Cote d’Ivoire.

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