China supports infrastructure development in Cape Verde

31 August 2009

Praia, Cape Verde, 31 Aug – China is to support infrastructure development projects in Cape Verde, particularly for social housing, energy, cement production and the restoration of Cabnave shipyards, to the tune of over US$240 million.

To this end the Cape Verdean government, which is keen to become one of China’s special economic zones in Africa, last week signed an agreement with Beijing’s new diplomatic representative in the archipelago for the creation of a Joint Economic, Commercial and Technical Cooperation Commission.

According to a statement from Cape Verde’s Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and Communities Ministry, the agreement aims to “establish a regular mechanism for development and cooperation dialogue, in the form of a cooperation programme which includes interest-free loans, commercial loans and investment projects.”

Among the portfolio of projects, it adds, is the construction of social housing on the islands of Santiago, S. Vicente, Boa Vista, Maio and Sal, which would benefit from funding of around US$100 million.

The cement factory at S. Cruz, estimated at US$65 million, as well as the restoration of the Cabnave shipyards, which should cost between 60 and 65 million dollars, are also among the bilateral projects on the cards.

Also a possibility is the restoration of the electricity power plant (Praia), estimated at US$10 million, according to the Cape Verdian government’s statement.

At the same time, the Cape Verdean Foreign Affairs minister, José Brito and the country’s new Chinese ambassador, Li Chunhua, signed an agreement aimed at promoting youth exchange between the two countries.

At the end of last year, China and Cape Verde signed a series of agreements estimated at US$23 million with a view to funding the National Stadium, and the construction of the archipelago’s new Maternity Hospital and Emergency Unit.

The ports and customs sector was also supported, with the purchase of three scanners to be installed in the ports of Praia (Santiago), Porto Grande (São Vicente) and Palmeira (Sal).

The Cape Verdean port company (Enapor) has been looking for Chinese investors to expand the Porto Grande do Mindelo, on the island of S. Vicente, a US$324 million project which is expected to increase traffic to the port, which is the archipelago’s largest of its kind, six-fold by 2030.

The idea is that 100 percent of the capital would be from private sources, although a mixed investment model is also a possibility.

The operational model could change from being a public-private partnership (PPP), to a concession contract for infrastructures or to a Build, Operate, Transfer agreement in which, at the end of a certain period, during which the investor recoups their investment, the infrastructures revert to the public domain.

Boasting the country’s best port infrastructures, Porto Grande has a fish dock, 6,000 tonne capacity refrigerated storage, as well as a cabotage terminal for the loading of goods and passengers, with a 230 metre coasting perimeter and a roll-on/roll off ramp.

MACAUHUB FRENCH