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Infrastructure: Enhancing Port Structures


A conference next week will bring together US and African officials and investors to talk about African transport systems. The delegates will gather in a Washington suburb for the first annual conference on African infrastructure. They’ll look for ways to broaden investment in African transport systems, including ports.

Mohamed Rustum is an official with the Coega Development Corporation in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Among other things, he’s responsible for overseeing investments in the Coega Industrial Development Zone, which is about 20 kilometers away from the city. The zone includes a deep water port, which is at 18.5 meters in depth, is larger than those of current transshipment points at Durban and Cape Town. The new port is expected to export, among other items, minerals and liquid fuels.

Rustum told VOA English to Africa Service reporter William Eagle, “Part of the plan is to look at it becoming a major transshipment port over time to serve regional and global markets. On the southern tip of Africa, where around 40 percent of global trade moving around the African continent, it is a good hub where ships could come and offload, and other ships turn around and move goods in other direction from there.”

Rustum says South Africa is courting foreign businesses at the upcoming meeting: “We are looking for investment partners and to bring people up to speed at what is happening with infrastructure and what we believe are the opportunities that it offers. It is a road show to highlight future plans and …to create partnerships with companies who want to come into the zone.”

He says the first part of the Coega project, the building of the port itself, should be finished within two years. He says the government will be looking for companies with expertise in operating cranes and technologies for running ports.

There are also opportunities for American investors in the trade zone behind the port. “For example,” he says, “In Port Elizabeth, General Motors has a strong manufacturing base and there is a lot of interest from us automotive companies coming there. Ford (also) has an engine plant there.”

South Africa is aiming for a six percent annual growth rate. Rustum says today it’s about four percent. He says the government is looking to spend over 54 billion US dollars (or 400 billion rand) in the coming years renovating infrastructure.

For more information, go to: Coega Development Corporation http://www.coega.co.za/ and http://www.eprop.co.za/news/article.aspx?idArticle=6500

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