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China keen to invest in Cameroon

Douala – Cameroon’s
main port, which is
to be supplemented
by a new deep-water
port at Yaounde
Yaounde, Cameroon — MININGREVIEW.COM — 12 May 2008 – Companies from China, Canada and Europe have expressed interest in investing in the building of a US$655 million (R5 billion) multi-purpose deep seaport in south Cameroon that will serve major mineral export projects.

Reuters reports that the plan for the port to be located at Grand Batanga, 10 km south of Kribi, was presented to potential investors by the government of Cameroon. Depth of the projected port facility will allow the entry of much larger ships than those currently served by Cameroon’s main port of Douala. It would consist of four terminals — for containers, oil products, iron ore and aluminium.

Cameroon’s Economy, Planning and Regional Development Minister Louis Paul Motaze told Reuters that a Chinese company, China Harbour Engineering Co. (CHEC), had shown interest in taking on the entire project. Other companies from Canada, Europe and Africa had expressed an interest in buying stakes in the port project.

“We are very willing, ready and determined to invest in this project, which I believe will be very beneficial to the people and the economy of Cameroon and the entire central African sub-region,” China Harbour Engineering Co. spokesman Edward Xu told Reuters.

"We have been very encouraged by this enthusiastic response and from the way things are progressing I am now very certain construction work on the first phase will start in 2010, and the first traffic will flow through the port by 2013," Motaze said.

Douala, which handles 95% of the import and export traffic of Cameroon and the neighbouring landlocked Central African Republic and Chad, is restricted in the size of the ships it can handle because of its location on the sediment-filled River Wouri estuary. Its position demands constant dredging.

“The proposed new deep seaport near Kribi would be able to take much larger vessels, and would be linked by road and rail to major iron ore, cobalt, nickel and bauxite mining projects under development in Cameroon’s interior, Motaze explained.