Saturday, May 23, 2009

Djibouti sends engineers to aid $6bn Shire–Zambezi project

The government of Djibouti has sent engineers to Malawi to offer technical assistance in the construction of the Nsanje Port and the proposed $6-billion Shire–Zambezi waterway project. The Malawian President Bingu wa Mutharika had asked Djibouti to offer technical assistance with respect to the project.

The president welcomed the Djibouti engineers indications that the ambitious project was feasible. He said, “I am glad that what other people thought was a pipedream is now coming out to be reality. Malawi approached Djibouti to assist on the project because the East African nation has one of the best-managed seaports in the world, with capacity to handle six-million to eight-million tons of cargo a year.

The Shire–Zambezi waterway will help landlocked Malawi save on huge transport costs. which mainly uses road transport to ferry imports and export to and from the seaports of Beira and Nacala, in Mozambique, Dar-es-Salaam, in Tanzania, and Durban in South Africa.

German firm Hydroplan Ingenier conducted a European Union-financed prefeasibility study into the project, which, besides other things, recommended that a comprehensive feasibility study be conducted to ascertain the navigability of the two rivers because, while the Shire river is deep and narrow, the Zambezi river is wide and shallow.

Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia – the key beneficiaries of the project – have already signed a memorandum of understanding to work together on the project.