CHEC Begins Major Port Expansion Project in Côte d’Ivoire, Project Envisions New Transshipment Gateway to Western Africa

On October 7, 2020, state-owned company China Harbour Engineering Company (CHECbegan construction of the $470.4 million Côte d’Ivoire Terminal (CIT), a second container terminal in Côte d’Ivoire’s port of Abidjan that is expected to elevate substantially the intake capacity of the west African port and transform it into a major transshipment gateway for the region.  Once operational, CIT will reportedly become the only port in West Africa capable of handling vessels up to 14,000 TEU.

In its first phase of development, CIT is expected to expand the Port of Abidjan’s annual throughput capacity by 1.2 million TEU, alleviating much of the transshipment capacity restrictions currently faced by other port terminals in the region – specifically those in Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger. 

The project is being advertised as one that will follow strict environmental standards, making it the only “green terminal” in sub-Saharan Africa.  The latest project follows other  initiatives by CHEC in Côte d’Ivoire.

  • In April 2002, CHEC completed a separate, $933.4 million expansion project at the Abidjan Port that was initiated in 2015. It is reportedly the largest EPC project undertaken by CHEC in West Africa.
  • In April 2018, CHEC signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the extension of San Pedro Port, Côte d’Ivoire’s second largest port (by tonnage).  The Ivorian government announced it would award financing for the project to the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC). 

China’s port investment activities in Africa have been characterized as comprising part of Beijing’s Maritime Silk Road initiative, intended to facilitate China’s access to the continent for a variety of trade, development and potential military reasons. For now, CHEC remains a contractor for terminal construction purposes. Once completed, the terminal will be jointly operated by Bolloré Ports and APM Terminals (APMT).