Yaounde — THE approval of the US$675,5 million loan of the second phase of construction works at the Kribi Deep sea port has come as a major boost in Cameroon Vision 2035 ambitions by unlocking the country's mining potential, create jobs and enhance trade with neighbouring countries.
The Exim Bank of China has approved additional funding for the extension of the project.
Cameroon Minister of Economy, Planning and Regional Development, Louis Paul Motaze, said part of the money- US$ 524,5 million will be obtained on preferential basis while US$150 will be given out as a concessional loan.
"The Exim Bank of China has granted us seven years of grace. That means that we are not expected to pay any interest on the money within the next seven years, and the maturity time frame is 20 years.
"When we start repayments, we will be paying as little as 2 percent as interest per year," Motaze told CAJ News.
"The Port will be a centre of trade for the entire region, and will also serve landlocked Chad and the Central African Republic," Motaze emphasised.
The second phase of the port will consist in the construction of a 1 102-meter long quay, two container berths, two hydro-carbon berths as well as two bulk cargo berths.
The project will take 42 months and when complete, it would consist of 20 terminals and measure a quay of 6,5 km.
In 2007, Exim Bank injected US$ 498 million for the first phase the China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) executed.
It built a 362 meter long container berth of 50 000 dead weight tonnage (dwt), a 308-meter long general berth of 40 000dwt, a breakwater 120-meter-long and 9 600m2 of housing construction.
Motaze said there would be a third phase during which 12 berths will be constructed at the northern part of the port to enable future development of the project.
Cameroon Director-General of Taxation, Mopa Modeste Fatoing, said the first phase of the project alone was expected to help be generate tax revenue amounting to US$ 12,5 million per year, with at least 2 000 jobs created.
The Kribi fills the gaps of the Douala port in a significant way. Its 16 metre-deep draught outscores the Douala port, which is barely 7 meters deep.
Since the Douala port is an estuary port, it has to be dredged every year in order for large ships to dock.
Only ships with a maximum tonnage of 15 000 t can dock there. Bigger ships cannot access the port and have to anchor offshore while their contents are ferried to the port.
This comes at a significant cost.
In contrast, the port under construction in Kribi will be capable of accepting vessels of up to 100 000 t.
The facility would also boost the mining sector.
With iron ore and other minerals such as bauxite being exploited in the country's South East, a project is underway to develop a 510-km railway for the transportation of mostly iron ore from Mbalam to Kribi for export.
Portuguese construction company, Mota-Engil SGPS, has won the contract to build the railway connecting Mbalam (where Australian firm, Sundance Resources is exploiting iron ore) in the east of the country to the deepwater port in Kribi in the south.
Another 71 km connecting Nabeba (Congo Brazzaville) to Mbalam is underway. The Portuguese company will also build the iron berth of the deep water port at Kribi which will enable the stocking of cargo from the Mbalam Mine.
The Director-General of Ministry of Economy, Planning and Regional Development, Dieudonne Bondoma Yokono told CAJ News would unlock the potential of Cameroon's huge mineral deposits.
The Kribi Deep sea port is a major component of the central African country's Vision 2035, which aims to establish Cameroon as an emerging country over the next 25-30 years.
An emerging market is a country that has some characteristics of a developed market.
Cameroon, central Africa's second biggest economy after Democratic Republic of Congo, has its vision based medium-term objectives, notably, poverty alleviation, becoming a middle income, newly industrialised country and consolidating democracy.