China and Algeria to Build Mega Sea Port of Cherchell

ALGIERS, Jan. 17 (Xinhua) -- Algeria and China on Sunday inked a 3.3-billion-U.S-dollar deal to build and exploit the new center transshipment port of Cherchell.

The agreement was signed between Algeria's Transport Ministry, China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) and China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC) in Algeria.

Under the deal, the two sides will create a consortium company to build the port, some 60 km west of the capital Algiers.

Creation of the company is expected to finalize later in March 2016, with the approval from the Council of State Shareholdings and the signature of its shareholding pact.

The port will have 23 docks capable of processing 6.5 million 20-foot containers and 26 million tons of goods per year.

According to forecasts by Algeria's Transport Ministry, port traffic in the country's central region is expected to hit 35 million tons or two million 20-foot containers per year by 2050.

The project is planned to complete within seven years, and gradually put into service within four years with China's Shanghai Ports Group ensuring its management.

Bringing in Shanghai Port Group "would help driving international shipment traffic coming from the Southeast Asia and other continents to pass from this Center Port, under transshipment process to continue sea transport to elsewhere, or use the Algerian highway and railway networks to carry shipments to Africa," said Algerian Transport Minister Boudjemaa Talai.

Wen Jingfei, CHEC representative at the signing ceremony, told Xinhua that this project is important not only for Algeria but for the whole Mediterranean region and Africa.

He said the Algerian government has wanted to build this mega Central Harbor for many years, and it has positioned it as a transit port at the Mediterranean area that will provide service to North Africa and Europe.

Algeria's landlocked neighbors such as Mali also need a port like this, he added.

Zhou Sheng, the CSCEC representative said the agreement will be a milestone in the history of Algeria, a country that is facing a rare difficult period due to the slumping.

"The Algerian government selected Chinese companies to build this project regarding the traditional friendship between the two nations and strong bilateral relationship in political, economic and cultural fields," he said.