Tanzania resumes talks with China over the Bagamoyo Port deal. But is it too late?


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Tanzanian President Samia Hassan surprised a lot of people last month when she announced that talks with China had resumed over the controversial Bagamoyo port deal. This is the deal that President Hassan’s predecessor, the late John Magufuli, famously halted back in 2019 when he said only a “drunkard” would accept the terms put forth by China Merchant Holdings International.

Things have changed a lot since then and apparently, even Chinese President Xi Jinping is now open to the idea of restarting negotiations over the multibillion-dollar port expansion project.

But President Hassan faces a tough challenge. First, the Chinese aren’t spending the kind of money on big infrastructure projects as they used to in Africa. Secondly, there’s a lot of port capacity now in East Africa, from Djibouti to Durban, so the economic feasibility of a big project like this remains an open question.

Thabit Jacob, a post-doctoral researcher in the department of political science at the University of Gothenberg, and Muhidin Shangwe, a lecturer in the political science department at the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, join Eric & Cobus to discuss the politics and economics surrounding the Sino-Tanzanian Bagamoyo port deal.