Two Chinese firms have signed a $3.3bn deal to build a new port at Cherchell in Algeria with a view to making it the largest in North Africa.
Under the deal the China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) and China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC) will form a consortium with Algeria’s Transport Ministry to build the port, around 40 miles west of capital Algiers.
The Chinese government said the port would have 23 docks capable of processing 6.5m 20-foot containers and 26m tons of goods per year.
This would make it North Africa’s leading port. Currently the Moroccan port of Casablanca is the region’s largest, handling 21m tons per year.
Algeria’s Transport Ministry expects port traffic in the country’s central region to hit 35m tons or two million 20 foot containers per year by 2050.
The project is set to be completed by 2023 and will be managed by China’s Shanghai Ports Group for its first four years.
Algerian Transport Minister Boudjemaa Talai said Shanghai Port Group’s management would help to drive international shipping traffic from Southeast Asia and other continents to the port.
Algeria aims for the port to serve as a transit centre, providing service to North Africa and Europe as well as the country’s landlocked neighbours like Mali.