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India plans line of credit for Banjul port expansion in Gambia

INDIA has given an in-principle approval for the extension of a line of credit (LoC) to Gambia, adding to the $ 45-million LoC that the West African country has already received, to expand and upgrade its Banjul port.

Banjul is the capital of Gambia and the eponymous port there is planning to expand and upgrade its infrastructure. The assistance to Gambia comes even as India recently sanctioned about $ 85 million for work on the Chabahar port in Iran—India’s first overseas port project.

The proposal has been forwarded to the Shipping Ministry for review after due consideration by the Development Partnership Administration (DPA) wing under the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).

Established in 1972, Banjul port serves as the main seaport of Gambia and accounts for almost 90 per cent of the country’s trade in terms of volume and weight. Furthermore, the port serves as a gateway to its landlocked neighbouring countries like Senegal and Mali.

Last year, during the opening of the National Assembly, the Gambian President, Mr Yahya Jammeh, had spoken about India and the Banjul port. At the time, India had approved the second LoC worth $ 16.88 million for construction of the National Assembly Building Complex. He had laid out the intention for upgrading and expanding Banjul port during his speech. The expansion project entails increasing port capacity in terms of berth space for vessels, addition of container terminal, acquisition of cargo handling equipment and computerisation.

The DPA has requested the Ministry of Shipping to carry out a techno-financial appraisal of the project, and the findings would be forwarded to MEA. A decision will be taken after considering the overall aspects of the plan.

"After the decision to extend credit is officially sanctioned, MEA and the Finance Ministry will take a final call and Exim Bank of India will disburse the allocated funds," said an MEA official.

The DPA is responsible for handling the LoC extended by India to other countries. The body currently manages project appraisals in the East, South and West African regions. Exim Bank had initially sanctioned $ 33.58 million for Gambia, before the facility was extended by an additional $ 45 billion.

Source : Exim News Service - NEW DELHI, Nov. 19

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