Praia, Cape Verde, 21 Jan – A number of partnerships between Chinese and Cape Verdean companies, most recently in the port and fishing sectors, is giving an awaited boost to the bilateral economic relations between the country with the creation of special economic areas on the archipelago.
The quantity and diversity of projects by Chinese companies outlined for the archipelago last week led Cape Verdean financial newspaper, O Cifrão, to entitle an article on economic prospects for 2008, “New Chinese Wave.”
“If they are carried out, these projects will make China one of the most important partners for Cape Verde at the beginning of the 21st century,” the influential Cape Verdean newspaper wrote.
The highlight of those projects goes to the China Ocean Shipping Companies Group (Cosco), one of the world’s largest shipping companies, which is working on a partnership with Enapor, the Cape Verdean airport management company, which is currently running a significant investment program to modernize and increase the capacity of its facilities.
The Cape Verdean press has also reported that negotiations are underway between Cape Verdean companies Interbase and Cabenave and an unnamed Chinese fishing company.
The news of negotiations between fishing companies goes some way to reaching the aims outlined by the authorities of both countries, namely for the island of Sao Vicente, which has the best port facilities on the archipelago, with refrigeration units that make it possible to preserve fish, which is later exported.
“This cooperation between the two countries is intensifying day by day and amongst the projects outlined is the construction of special economic areas, on which we are working, particularly the embassy and the Economy Ministry. We are working to convert Sao Vicente into a special economic area, but initially we want to carry out the construction project of the fishing supply center,” said the Chinese ambassador to Cape Verde, Wu Yuanshuan recently.
Fishing and shipping have been one of the areas in which Cape Verde has shown most interest in boosting cooperation with China, together with the creation of duty free areas (commercial and industrial) and tourism.
Enapor’s business plan projects that cargo handled at the archipelago’s ports will rise 68 percent by 2015.
The port of Praia, which is showing signs of congestion, will receive an investment of approximately US$53 million, a project which includes construction of a cargo terminal, in a 14 hectare area close to the facilities of fuel companies Shell and Enacol, in Achada Grande, as well as an access road and a wave breaker.
Currently, the port serving the Cape Verdean capital has just two docks, a support dock, four warehouses and a reduced capacity entrance.
The second phase of modernization of the capital’s port, on the island of Santiago, includes setting up a container park and doubling the length of the current dock.
The port of Palmeira, on Sal Island is also to be modernized as well as those of vale dos Cavaleiros (Fogo island) and Furna (Brava island), which will be widened and equipped with “roll on – roll off” ramps to make loading and unloading of goods easier.
Projects have also been designed to create a new multipurpose port in sale Rei (Boa Vista Island) and for expansion of Porto Novo (Santo Antao Island), where US$40 million are to be invested, in an initially stage.
But the “New Chinese Wave,” according to the Cape Verdean press, will also extend to equipment, new communication technologies, electricity and construction materials, as this year construction of the archipelago’s first cement factory is due to begin, on Santiago Island, by the China Building Material Industrial Corporation for Foreign Econo-Technical Cooperation (CMBC).
The aim of this UUS$55 million units, seen as “strategic” by the Cape Verdean government, is to supply the domestic market at a time when several infrastructures are to be implemented, as well as for export to West African markets.
A further two industrial projects are awaiting development: a ceramics unit on Boa Vista and an industrial fishing unit on Santiago island.
Cooperation with China also extends to the public works sector, including construction of Cape Verde’s National Stadium, with a capacity for 20,000 people, after conclusion of the archipelago’s first dam, at Poilão (Santa Cruz).
An important step in bilateral economic relations was taken at the end of last year, when China recognized Cape Verde as an approved destination for Chinese tourists.
During a visit to Macau in December, Cape Verde’s minister for the Economy, Growth and Competition, José Brito called for trade relations to be strengthened, saying that Cape Verde planned to be a platform to help China conquer markets.
“China also has a strategy to conquer the markets and it is not a secret to anybody that it is interested in the African, European and American markets,” said Brito, “Cape Verde is between these three continents, and can offer China a trading and economic base to help the country to conquer this area.”
Brito noted the “new stage” in the relationship between the two nations which would allow trade to increase. Trade between the countries is currently estimated to total US$10 million, but is in reality much higher as Cape Verde buys many Chinese products via European markets.
Diplomatic relations between Cape Verde and China began on April 25, 1974, and since then Cape Verde has had economic and technical cooperation from China and Beijing has funded several projects on the archipelago, such as the National Assembly, the Governmental Palace and the National Auditorium. (macauhub)