Bagamoyo is a small fishing town located just 50 kilometers north of Dar es Salaam. The town of 30,000 inhabitants has a rich, albeit short, history dating back to the end of the 18th century. In that period, the mainland of Tanzania was a German colony, and the port Bagamoyo was the main port during this time. However, once the railroad connecting Dar es Salaam to the interior part of the country was established, Bagamoyo became less important for the colony and has not developed much since. Development will come again soon though due to large investments of China.
Currently, China invests heavily in the special economic zone (SEZ) in Bagamoyo.
China is investing heavily in different parts of Africa, including Tanzania. The investments in Tanzania have been going on for many years, but never on such a massive scale. Currently, China invests heavily in the special economic zone (SEZ) in Bagamoyo. China’s involvement in such projects in the region is a result of president Xi Jinping's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). BRI is the Chinese effort for more connectivity with other countries on a global scale. Therefore, a lot more projects will be undertaken in the near future. The impact of their investments on all aspects of Tanzania is gigantic. Furthermore, Bagamoyo specifically will become an industrial gateway for other landlocked countries.
The location of this SEZ is strategic because of a couple of beneficial geographical factors. The first important factor is the distance to Dar es Salaam, which is the largest industrial and financial centre of the country. The new SEZ may help decongesting parts of Dar es Salaam as it attracts both existing and new industries to the area. Additionally, there is a good connection between the SEZ and Dar es Salaam because both are linked to the main road network. The connectivity with the main road network leads to a good connection with not only the rest of Tanzania, but also the neighboring countries. Another geographical factor is the connection to two important railways. One of these connects the western parts of Tanzania to Bagamoyo, and the other connects the SEZ to Zambia and other regions. Lastly, access to the sea and construction of airport facilities are important geographical factors. The access to the sea is coupled with the fact that a major port is being constructed. Same goes for the international airport, for which plans have already been developed. Taking all these factors into account, the area is strategically viable for this project.
If the project goes as planned, the Bagamoyo port will be the largest of Africa.
The SEZ will consist of a variation of facilities, including roads and a 2,561 km long railway. If the project goes as planned, the Bagamoyo port will be the largest of Africa. Next to the port, roads and railways, the plan is to develop an entire industrial area next to the port with factories and new apartments to house workers. There are even plans to build an airport in the special economic zone.
It is expected, that when finished, the special economic zone will connect Tanzania through the port and airport with the global market but also through the roads and railways with the Tanzanian inland market. This development will attract many investments to Tanzania and therefore boost the economy. The investments will create new industries in East Africa which will lead to new work opportunities for the locals. Obviously, there are also environmental and socio-economic impacts on the country. Impacts on the flora and fauna are supposedly small. However, the construction of the project can lead to air pollution and noise nuisance. Also, the water resources and quality will be affected. Water will be needed for the construction, which can lead to scarce availability of water and therefore competition in the population. On the socio-economic side, there will be risks in the cultural sites, risks in the health of the population and there are concerns about the resettlement of the people living in Bagamoyo.
The investments will create new industries in East Africa which will lead to new work opportunities for the locals.
In conclusion, the Bagamoyo project will give rise to a major economic growth in the local area, but also affect economic activity of Tanzania and its surrounding countries. This economic growth is embraced. However, it comes with several risks for which it is not sure how these are accounted for. Bagamoyo saga to be continued...