Algeria and China on Sunday inked a $3.3 billion deal to build and exploit a new center trans-shipment port of Cherchell, 55 miles west of the capital city of Algiers.
Algeria, an OPEC state, has billed it as a crucial Mediterranean transit port that will provide services to North Africa and Europe.
The agreement was signed between Algeria’s Transport Ministry, China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) and China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC) in Algeria.
Chinese construction firms have won billions of dollars worth of infrastructure contracts from Algeria in recent years.
Under the deal inked on Sunday, the two sides will create a consortium company, to be finalized in March, to build the port.
The port will have 23 docks capable of processing 6.5 million 20-foot containers and 26 million tons of goods per year.
According to forecasts by Algeria’s Transport Ministry, port traffic in the country’s central region is expected to hit 35 million tons or two million 20-foot containers per year by 2050.
The project is expected to be completed within seven years, and gradually put into service within four years with China’s Shanghai Ports Group ensuring its management.
Bringing in Shanghai Port Group “would help driving international shipment traffic coming from the Southeast Asia and other continents to pass from this Center Port, under trans-shipment process to continue sea transport to elsewhere, or use the Algerian highway and railway networks to carry shipments to Africa,” said Algerian Transport Minister Boudjemaa Talai.
The deal come at a sensitive time for the Algerian government as it seeks to cope with the impact of sliding crude oil prices and lure more investors to its lifeblood energy sector. Oil and gas exports comprise 97 per cent of sales abroad.
Algeria relies heavily on oil and gas revenue for the state budget.
Zhou Sheng, the China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC) representative, said the port agreement will be a milestone in the history of Algeria.
“The Algerian government selected Chinese companies to build this project regarding the traditional friendship between the two nations and strong bilateral relationship in political, economic and cultural fields,” he said.
TBP and Agencies