Cidade da Praia, 16 July – Cape Verde is channeling investments of hundreds of millions of dollars into its ports, with assistance from international cooperation institutions, to modernize harbor facilities in the islands and meet increasing cargo tonnage.
Port sector partnerships have been prioritized by the Praia government for the country’s development and these will be high on the agenda of China’s deputy-minister of commerce, Wei Jianguo, during a visit this week to Cape Verde.
Cape Verde will particularly seek Chinese partnerships in the areas of industrial and trade free zones, freight transfer, fisheries and tourism during the Beijing official’s trip to the islands ending 17 July.
Wei’s visit comes when Cape Verde is making important investment in its ports, which are forecast to register increased cargo levels of 68 percent by 2015, according to a business plan for the sector. This estimate is described as “conservative” by the manager of Cape Verde’s port company, Enapor.
“In 2006, we handled around 400,000 tons of freight in the Port of Praia. In 2020, we predict an increase to 620,000 tons,” Enapor chief Osvaldo Lopes told business weekly Cifrão days before the Chinese visit.
The largest slice of investment, about US$ 53 million, is going to the Port of Praia, which is showing signs of overloading. These funds are coming from America’s Millennium Challenge Corporation, added Lopes.
The port serving Cape Verde’s capital currently has only two loading quays, one support dock used for inter-island shipping, four warehouses and a port entrance of limited capacity.
The first state of upgrading the port involves the building of a 14-hectare freight terminal near the complexes of fuel companies Shell and Enacol in Achado Grande.
“This area will be transformed into a logistics area and will become the exclusive zone of the Port of Praia, also including an access road and breakwater,” Lopes told the Cifrão business weekly.
A second state of upgrading the capital’s port, on Santiago Island, will see a container yard being built and the doubling of the length of the dock’s main loading quay.
Enapor already has a pre-accord with the European Investment Bank for a project to modernize the port of Palmeira on Sal Island.
The ports of Cavaleiros (Fogo) and Furna (Brava) are being enlarged and having roll-on-roll off ramps installed to facilitate loading and unloading of freight.
There are also plans to create a multiuse port at Sal Rei (Boavista) and to enlarge Porto Novo (Santo Antão), where nearly US$ 40 million will be initially invested.
Inter-island cargo traffic, according to Lopes, will almost double in coming years to 900,000 tons, obliging investment of around US$ 40 million from next year to increase handling capacity.
In 2006, shipping traffic into Cape Verde’s ports rose by 9 percent, or 500 boats.
Freight traffic increased from 1.5 million tons to 1.8 million tons, contributing to increased revenues for Enapor. Cape Verde’s port firm registered a 12 percent increase in profits and a 44 percent rise in net results.
China’s deputy-commerce minister will meet Cape Verde’s prime minister and also hold talks with Praia’s minister of economy, growth and competitiveness, among other officials.
The Beijing delegation includes various business chiefs who will visit companies in potential development zones in Santa Cruz (Santiago), Sal and São Vicente.
A note from Cape Verde’s foreign ministry said Praia’s partnership with China “will create an enormous business hub for Chinese companies expanding their markets to West Africa, Lusophone Africa and benefiting from accords with the African Growth and Opportunity Act.”
“For Cape Verde the partnership will generate lasting employment and facilitate building of infrastructures needed to guarantee successful implementation of an agenda of change, based on reciprocal gains for the two peoples,” added the official Praia statement. (macauhub)