Dar es Salaam — The President of Zanzibar, Dr Hussein Ali Mwinyi, has outlined plans to construct the Manga Pwani Port that is expected to be the continent's transportation hub.
He said investment and completion of the project will reduce costs of transporting cargo from different parts of the world and increase their levels of competitiveness.
The auspicious Islands of Zanzibar Head of State said the government has started looking for investors in the project constituting the six sectors forming the blue economy.
He said Singapore and Dubai have made significant development steps and a vibrant economy through the port economy, hinting that the same was possible for Zanzibar.
The eighth president was speaking at the Zanzibar State House during an exclusive interview with Mwananchi Communications Limited (MCL) journalists on the government's performance and future plans after completing a year in office.
During the interview - led by the MCL Managing Director, Mr Bakari Machumu - Dr Mwinyi said Zanzibar was blessed to have the Mwanga Pwani area that has a sea level depth that allows construction of a port that can allow large ships to dock.
According to him, the 800 metres long berth will be constructed in the area to allow the Five Generation (5G) ships carrying many containers to dock.
"Singapore and Dubai depend on the ports' economies. Cargo passes their ports for distribution in different countries. Why shouldn't the same take place through Zanzibar?" he wondered.
The Port of Singapore is the biggest and busiest in Southeast Asia - and the second worldwide after Shanghai.
In 2019, it carried 37.2 million twenty-foot-equivalent units (TEU containers)" about 1.6 percent more as compared to 2018.
The Maritime Port Authority (MPA) plans to build the Tuas Port that will top other ports with the capacity to handle 60 million TEU after completion in 2040.
However, the Mina Jebel Ali in Dubai is a major port, currently handling 22.4 million cargo to Asia, Middle East, Africa, and Europe.
It services ships from over 150 ports with container terminals divided into T1, T2, and T3 zones with construction plans of T4 underway.
T1 is the busiest terminal with 15 berths, 51 cranes and a nine million TEU capacity, while T2 has eight berths and 32 cranes with annual capacity to hold 6.5 million TEUs.
T3 is highly advanced, possessing semi-automatic cranes capable of processing Ultra Large Container Vessels (ULCVs).
The terminal also has five berths capable of handling 3.8 million and store over 18,000 TEUs.
The proposed T4 is expected to add 3.1 million TEUs to existing facilities.
Dr Mwinyi believes that like the ports in Singapore and Dubai the Mwanga Pwani project could turn Zanzibar a transportation hub in Africa.
"This is our plan. We have started negotiating with investors. Some of them have expressed interest in investing in the project," he said.
According to him, investment will involve construction of tank farms that will facilitate storage of oil and gas imported from Arab countries, Singapore and Europe and later distributed to other parts of the continent.
Dr Mwinyi who was speaking confidently said the completion of the project will benefit businessmen who dig deeper now for importation of cargo to African ports such as Dar es Salaam and Beira through the use of small ships.
Speaking on the other components of the blue economy, Dr Mwinyi said his government was attracting investment in the tourism sector, which is the mother of the blue economy.
"Investment in hotel constructions worth $250 million, $70 million, $15 million, etc., is underway. Islets have been offered for similar investment, the move that has given a good response," he said.
He said his belief was that the tourism sector will continue performing well due to the given incentives, good business environment and market availability," he said.
The Zanzibar's president said fishermen in the Isles used poor fishing gear, getting an average of two kilogramme of fish per day that are sold at an average of Sh10,000 to Sh15,000.
"They have now been provided with boats that will increase production to 1,000 kilos (one tone) per day. Besides, investors' attraction continues to enable Zanzibar to export processed sea products," he said.
Oil and Gas
According to him, abundant discoveries of oil and gas have been made in Zanzibar, saying his government was now working to extract the natural resources for power generation, domestic use, etc.
Dr Mwinyi said government institutions including the Zanzibar Social Security Fund (ZSSF), People's Bank of Zanzibar (PBZ) and Zanzibar Insurance Corporation (ZIC) have been advised to mobilize funds for construction of a seaweed processing factory.
"I'm told processed seaweed exports fetch Sh12,000 per kilo. This would take our seaweed farmers out of poverty, compared with the Sh500 they are paid per kilo today," he said.