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Mbamba Bay port construction project to boost Mtwara Corridor

2023-03-17 Samira Nadkarni

170323ceda // mtwara_port_tanzania_ports_authority.png (467 K)

Photo Credit: Tanzania Ports Authority

Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) commenced work on the development of Mbamba Bay Port in Nyasa district, Ruvuma, in January 2023. Part of the Tanzanian government’s ongoing strategic investments in the infrastructure of 11 key ports in the region, the strategic development of Mbamba Bay Port’s capacity and infrastructure is intended to assist in nearly doubling maritime’s existing contribution to the country’s economy.  

TPA Deputy General Director Eng Juma Kijavara told local news outlets that the current project aims to construct a dockyard with a vessel-handling capacity of over 30,000 tonnes, allowing the port to handle the rapid expansion in trade anticipated through the development of the Corridor. 

Mbamba Bay Port is expected to play a big role in the $115M Mtwara Corridor Agreement, an inland transport infrastructure network that will connect Mbamba Bay Port to Mtwara Port and facilitate sea-bourne cargo trade for Tanzania, Mozambique, Malawi, and Zambia. With both projects underway, the TPA hopes to connect significant inland resources with port access, unlocking inland development potential and further facilitating trade between neighbouring countries. 

A strategic plan has also been developed by the government of Mtwara Region to promote economic growth by attracting foreign and local business opportunities through Mtwara Port. 

These plans have potentially been influenced by the economic cost-benefit analysis and study of EAC regional ports conducted in 2018 by Rotterdam-based Maritime and Transport Business Solutions (MTBS). Titled ‘Mapping the EAC Regional Ports With Complimentary Transport Infrastructure to Facilitate Trade’ and commissioned by the Macroeconomic and Financial Management Institute of Eastern and Southern Africa (MEFMI), the study was aimed at enhancing trade between EAC member states of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. 

Tanzania's Ambassador to Malawi, Humphrey Polepole, has emphasised the key role of Mbamba Bay Port in enhancing trade with Malawi and further facilitating the movement of people and cargoes in the region, with a particular focus on gas. Notably, the TPA has been in discussion regarding the development of Mbamba Bay Port as of 2004, when oil and gas were discovered in the region, but construction has been repeatedly deferred due to previous financial constraints. Although currently underway, the project is notable for having raised environmental concerns, in part due to its proximity to large nature reserves that are vital to the region’s economy.

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