Algeria’s El Hamdania Port
The Port of El Hamdania, in Cherchell, Algeria will be the country’s largest and first deep-water port and the second deep-water port in Africa.
In April 2019, Algerian media reported the suspension of the then-under-development deep-water Port of El Hamdania, in Cherchell. While the Government of Algeria (GoA) did not give an official explanation for the port’s suspension, the port development contractors reportedly stalled construction in February 2019 at the start of the national Hirak protest movement. When completed, the port will be the country’s largest and first deep-water port and the second deep-water port in Africa. Despite setbacks, the GoA is eager to restart construction due to its strategic importance.
Located 90 miles from Algiers, the GoA envisions the Port of El Hamdania as a regional hub for North Africa in the Mediterranean, competing with Morocco’s Tangier-Med Port. It will have a capacity of 25 million tons per year and 23 terminals capable of handling up to 6.5 million 20-foot containers. A memorandum of understanding (MOU) for the project, an initiative of former-President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, was signed in January 2016. The MOU, committed the China State Construction Engineering Company (CSCEC), China Harbor Engineering Company (CHECH), and the Algerian Port Authority to the project. In exchange for Chinese financing, the agreement handed port’s operations to the Chinese for the first 25 years.
Efforts to restart construction on the deep-water Port of El Hamdania could represent new business opportunities in the port development and equipment sectors. With a project budget of $3.3 billion, American port development and equipment companies should monitor procurement opportunities for computer systems and software; design and planning services; dredging; security systems, services and technology; terminal technologies and systems; and vessel traffic information systems.
Companies interested in the Port of El Hamdania development should thoroughly research in the Algerian market before attempting to compete for such contracts. Barriers to entry include investment laws that require Algerian partners to hold a 51% project stake and high customs duties. While the timeframe for project recommencement remains unclear as development has seen numerous announced delays, port development and equipment companies should be proactive in contract research and bidding.
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