by WorldTribune Staff, July 23, 2021
Four months after the death of conservative President John Magufuli, Tanzania is moving to revive a project that will give communist China strategic port access to the African nation.
After speaking by phone with Chinese supreme leader Xi Jinping on July 17, Tanzania’s new president, Samia Suluhu Hassan, confirmed negotiations had begun on reviving the Bagamoyo Port project that Magufuli had stalled.
Magufui had called the project “exploitative and awkward.”
Related: Tanzania’s Magufuli, 61: Downsized government, spurned China loans, defied LGBT lobby, March 24, 2021
While Chinese propaganda outlet Xinhua proclaimed the project is aimed at boosting the local Tanzanian economy, analysts say Beijing will likely use the port for military purposes to project power in the western and southern Indian Ocean Region.
Addressing Tanzania National Business Council, Hassan said: “Regarding the Bagamoyo Port project, let me give you the good news that we have started talks to revive the whole project. We are going to start talks with the investors that came for the project with the aim of opening it for the benefit of our nation.”
The Economic Times noted in a report last month that, during a 2013 visit to Tanzania, Xi and the then-Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete agreed on a framework between China Merchants Holdings International, China’s largest port operator, and the Tanzania government to develop a road map for the Bagamoyo project.
The project stalled a few years later due to Magufuli’s objection.
Among the conditions of the agreement that Magufuli disliked were requests from China that no other port should be built in Tanzania, Japan’s Nikkei Asia reported.
After negotiations on the Bagamoyo project stalled, China focused on port development in Djibouti, where the communist nation has its sole overseas naval base.