Oman and China sign for development of Bagamoyo Port in Tanzania

The relationship between Oman and China appears to becoming closer. China had a bumpy start in projects in Oman; its companies were involved the initial states of the Wastewater project

Sewage Pipeline Works Muscat
Sewage Pipeline Works Muscat

which must have been a steep learning curve for both parties as it stopped more than once. China then was the contractor for half of the Quriyyat-Sur highway where a slightly smoother way went forward, which included co-operation with the local village for some facilities for them.

Tiwi Bridge 2007 after Cyclone
Tiwi Bridge 2007 after Cyclone

Confidence must have grown considerably, or probably Oman was a good fit for China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ / ‘Belt and Road’ initiative . China is a major investor in Ad Duqm (Duqm SEZA)

Ali Shah of Wanfang and Yahya Al Jabri of Ad Duqm Economic Zone sign the initial agreement in 2016
Ali Shah of Wanfang and Yahya Al Jabri of Ad Duqm Economic Zone sign the initial agreement in 2016

through Oman Wanfang LLC, a Chinese company, which will develop 1,172 hectares of land adjacent to Ad Duqm’s port. It will also bring in a number of projects including vehicle assembly.

I speculated in April that the Port of Duqm was to be a key link in this Belt and Road project as it will be a central pivot of Chinese ports in the Arabian Sea.

Gwader in Pakistan is the northern side of Duqm’s chain. The port at Gwader would be the exit/entry onto the Karakoram Highway to China which circumvents Singapore and the Straits of Malacca.

Gwadar-Port
Gwadar-Port

Gwader was, until 1959, ruled by Oman and a result of Oman’s connection with Pakistan is that there always had been a substantial proportion of Oman’s population with links there.

The southern side would be in Africa, however the preferred port at Bagamoyo had stalled for a couple of years. This project has now had a key document signed and does appear to be moving forward with Oman appearing to be taking a larger role in the management.

Signing parties for port at Bagamoyo
Signing parties for port at Bagamoyo

The project over some US$10Billion should have construction start in January 2018 with completion expected in 2022. The port of Bagamoyo , north of Dar es Salam  may become the largest in East Africa  with supporting infrastructure including rail. The focus will probably be an import/export operation, ideal for China.

Tanzaniya port
Tanzaniya port

As with Gwader, Oman was once involved in what was Tanganyika (also at one time called German East Africa) and Zanzibar, the two key constituents in modern Tanzaniya, indeed Zanzibar was the effective capital of Oman in the early 19thc.

Bagamoyo from skyscrapercity.com
Bagamoyo from skyscrapercity.com

This re-launch of the project will mean that the Port of Duqm can move forward with more confidence in its own projects. This will spread into China’s other partners in the region and doubtless draw in other major investors.

 

Author: Tony Walsh

Book author including the current Bradt guide to Oman – edition 4

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