Dar es Salaam - Tanzania aims to hike cargo volumes through the port of Dar es Salaam next year by almost 40 percent over last year.

This was part of plans to expand and build new transport links and become a regional hub, President Jakaya Kikwete said on Friday.

Bureaucratic hurdles had delayed plans by a Chinese firm to build a port at Bagamoyo, 75km north of Dar es Salaam, but those had been resolved.

Tanzania, like its neighbour Kenya, wants to capitalise on a long coastline and upgrade railways and roads to serve growing economies in the land-locked heart of Africa, from Uganda on its northern border to Malawi in the south.

“If we invest in logistic centres, improve on infrastructure and create a facilitative environment, we can easily turn Dar es Salaam into another Dubai of its kind,” he said, speaking in the commercial capital for the Reuters Africa Investment Summit.

But the president acknowledged progress had been held back by red tape, while experts said existing transport links were crumbling or inefficient, including Dar es Salaam port.

Last year, Tanzania signed a framework deal with China Merchants Holdings (International) to build a port, special economic zone and railway network that could involve more than $10 billion (R105bn). Work has yet to start in earnest.

Kikwete said cargo through Dar es Salaam would reach 18 million tons next year, up from 13 million tons last year.

As part of a broader effort to improve the business environment, an office overseeing the president’s “Big Results Now” initiative, which works on swift delivery of major projects, would now also identify obstacles to business and ensure they were addressed.

The president also outlined plans for projects that included developing a port at Mtwara to serve northern Mozambique and Malawi, as well as upgrading the rail network.

Kenya has plans for a new port at Lamu, north of Mombasa port, which is now east Africa’s main gateway, and new transport links to Uganda and other land-locked states.

Kikwete dismissed the idea of a competition to grab a bigger share of trade into Africa. “I think there is enough business for all of us.” – Reuters