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Maritime Silk Road Is Coming to the Southeast Coast of Africa

April 25, 2016 (EIRNS)—An international consortium made up of China Harbour Engineering Co. (CHEC), South Africa’s state rail and port company Transnet, and Mozambique’s Bela Vista Holdings (BVH), is "projecting" an investment of $1 billion in construction a new deep-water port in Ponta Technobanine, Mozambique, near the capital, Maputo, the MacauHub news site reported today.

The port project is to include opening a 3.5-kilometer access channel and an industrial zone. It is to be accompanied by the construction of 1,100 km of "heavy-haul" rail with a planned capacity of processing 200 million tons of cargo per year, including general bulk, ores, fuel, and passengers. The intent is to develop the economy of the region by facilitating sea-access for land-locked Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Swaziland, building up Mozambique, and cutting costs for export from nearby South African mines.

Mozambique and Botswana initially agreed on this project in 2010, Macauhub reports, with Zimbabwe signing a Memorandum of Understanding on its involvement in 2011. The master plan for the project, sponsored by the Ministries of Transport of Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Botswana, was completed in 2012; a public tender was launched to select a company to undertake economic viability studies. The preliminary environmental impact studies have been done, leading to the selection of the location for the port.

But the crucial component is China.

Macauhub writes:

"The East African coast is one of the areas included in the Chinese business strategy of the New Silk Road, which will support the creation of new infrastructure and industrial areas. China has taken on an important role among Mozambique’s main foreign partners and most analysts expect that role to increase."

CHEC is already building new works in Mozambique’s second largest city, the port of Beira (begun last September), which are to revitalize fisheries, set up refrigeration, and allow for export of processed products. Also, a division of China National Petroleum Corp. signed a contract in March to carry out the feasibility study for a 2,600-kilometer pipeline in Mozambique.

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