Dubai port operator DP World this week signed a final agreement with the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to develop the country’s first deep-sea port at the town of Banana near the mouth of the Congo River.
DRC president Félix-Antoine Tshisekedi said the port would “transform the DRC into a trade hub”. The existing port at Banana is tiny, with a depth of only around 5m.
The deal was signed in Kinshasa at a ceremony attended by the president and Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, chief executive of DP World. This follows an agreement in principle in 2018 and a more detailed contract concluded in May.
DP World will now commence work on site next year, beginning with a 600m quay and a 30ha storage yard. This will allow it to handle 450,000 TEUs (20-foot equivalent units) a year – small in comparison with the West African ports presently under development, but significant for the DRC, which has no port capable of dealing with the large container ships operated by Chinese and European carriers.
The port will have a 18m draft, which is enough to handle any container vessel currently in operation.
At present, the port of Banana consists of one 75m wharf with a depth of 5.2m, and is equipped with two small cranes for cargo handling.
President Tshisekedi said at the ceremony that the port would “transform the DRC into a trade hub in the region, and in particular will benefit Kongo Central”, the province in which it will be built. Sulayem added the deal would provide the DRC with “a world-class port and logistics infrastructure to support the tremendous opportunities for trade in this country”.