interviewBy Faustine Kapama
A Tanzanian firm, known as MWAPORC is set to develop a port at Mwambani area in Tanga. Our Staff Writer FAUSTINE KAPAMA interviewed the Company's Co-Director, Mr Cuthbert Tenga, on various concerning on the project. His report..
Question: Can you briefly explain what MWAPORC is all about?
Answer: MWAPO RC is an acronym for Mwambani Port and Railway Corridor, a Tanzanian firm dedicated to the development of a new modern, efficient and cost effective transport logistics corridor linking the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean from Tanzania, through Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
It is led by indigenous experts with intimate understanding of the region. The focus of the Mwambani Economic Corridor shall be freight, logistics and training to increase the productivity and competitiveness of local economies. Furthermore, MWAPO RC as well plans to establish within the corridor with co investors, several planned value-generating centres and special Economic Zones in DRC and Uganda and integrated Iron and Steel Industrial Cluster at Planned Mwambani Free Port in Tanga.
Q: What kind of investments is MWAPORC going to make in Tanzania and, or Central and East Africa in general?
A: There are three nature of investments under the plan. First, construction of a deep sea port at Tanga. The Port is planned to have a depth of up-to 24 metres to service large ships. Unlike existing shallow ports, the deep sea port shall be designed to have the ability to make Tanzania a hub, enabling direct shipping from international ports and significantly reducing the costs of logistics to exporters and importers.
Secondly, construction of a free port adjacent the new deep sea port to host manufacturing, logistics and other service industries. The key anchor activities shall include an integrated iron and steel manufacturing cluster. Thirdly, construction of a New Heavy Haul Standard Gauge Railway.
The idea is to plan from the Deep Sea Port of Tanga to Singida, Shinyanga, Biharamulo and Mutukula at the border of Uganda and Tanzania and onwards through Uganda to Kisangani into Kinshasa and to Banana on the Atlantic Ocean in DRC. The Mwambani Port and Railway Corridor's catchment countries include Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, South DSudan, DRC, Cameroon, Congo Brazzaville, Angola, Central African Repoublic and Uganda.
Q: What forced you to start this project?
A: Equatorial Africa is renowned for its plenty and varied minerals, agriculture, tourism, fresh water bodies and one of the fastest population and urban growth rates in the world. Sadly as well, the same region has todate been recognised to have some of the highest transport and logistics costs in the world.
The lack of an efficient cross-border railway transportation system, capable of linking the east and west of the continent has hampered trade and investment. This is all about to change.
Q: How much is your Company going to spend on the planned projects?
A: The MWAPO RC Corridor Projects have been estimated to cost 33.17 billion US dollars (about 53tr/-) of which at least 30 per cent equivalent to about 11.06 billion US dollars shall be financed by equities. MWAPO RC shall offer indigenous African investors an opportunity to participate in the ownership of strategic cross-border infrastructure businesses on the continent.
Q: At what stage the investment(s) is and when exactly the investment is going to take off?
A: On 18 December 2012, MWAPO RC completed the first stage definitional studies for the project. Currently, MWAPO RC is set to commence on the prefeasibility and high level business and financial plans and plans to complete these by the fourth quarter of 2014. MWAPO RC plans to complete pre-construction and commence construction by the fourth quarter of 2016. Construction is planned to take five years, with full project commissioning expected by the fourth quarter of 2021.
Q: Is the government of Tanzania aware of this development?
A: Of course. The government of Tanzania is aware about this economic development of east and central Africa. The company has obtained full support from the government of Tanzania and has received requisite or letters of authorisation from key line ministries.
The Ministry of Transport has authorised the development of this project, while the Ministry of Industry and Trade has given firm support and endorsement of the project. To proceed with the detailed Engineering and related studies, MWAPO RC now is working on the DRC and Uganda government support to secure letters of authorisation to proceed with the project and letters of intent from key commercial agricultural companies, key miners, like Iron Ore and the main Fuel Logistics Operations in DRC.
Q: Will the company be running the project alone, or jointly or in partnership with another company? What is that company?
A: The MWAPO RC Project is a Private Public Partnership (PPP ) between the private sector and the government of Tanzania. It is a Private sector initiated and un-solicited PPP . The government plays the role of facilitator, while MWAPO RRC shall design, finance, build and operate the project.
The Company has retained the services of Mott MacDonald of United Kingdom to serve as Owner's Engineer.
Q: What benefits Tanzania or Tanzanians are going to get from this kind of investment (in terms of revenue and employment)?
A: Definitely. We cannot have such a big project here, which is not beneficial to the country. The development of a Hub Port and Free Port coupled with a heavy haul Railway linking Tanzania to rich markets of east-central Africa shall result in immense social-economic prosperity for Tanzania.
Tanzania shall enjoy a major economic boom as new Railway, Port and Free Port Investments stimulate agrodevelopment, real estate, and manufacturing and shall create thousands of new jobs and careers. MWAPO RC estimates that at least 20,000 new jobs shall be created in Tanzania during the construction period.
A Major Deep Sea Port at Tanga serving as a gateway port to east-central Africa shall make Tanzania a center of wholesale, re-export trade. The corridor is expected to spur and attract major new developments in agriculture, tourism, trade, communications, real-estates, industries, mining and manufacturing.