Challenge # 5 The future of the Port d’Ehoala
57. Construction of the new port was the key factor in the World Bank’s decision to include the Fort Dauphin component of its growth pole program for Madagascar. It was envisaged by the Madagascar government and the World Bank as the single factor that could most bring about sustainable development in the region by lowering the cost of imports, opening the interior of the region to exports on an expanding scale and facilitating major expansion in the tourism industry. Its location, determined after much debate, was set explicitly to favour the development of the region and an industrial zone adjacent to the port was secured with that in mind. Its location may also offer an important comparative advantage as a deepwater transhipment facility on the Indian Ocean.
58. While QMM has interests and responsibilities as owner and principal user, the port is a separate legal entity and its mandate is to develop into a regional public utility. There are, however, rumblings that the port is being treated more as private property by QMM than as a regional public good. This is clearly a problem of perceptions and communications far more than one of substance; since opening in July, 2009, 123 vessels have visited the port, or which only 9 were for ilmenite. Also, in accord with the port agreement a representative Port Users Committee which approves tariffs has been established. This situation calls for actions to improve perceptions and understanding of the port as a long-term regional asset and as the region’s prime moteur de développement
59. The port manager, who is enthusiastic about the potential for the port and a strong communicator, has already taken a lead in this regard. He is launching a process which includes consultation with all stakeholders to develop an action plan (Schéma Directeur) for the port. This will afford the opportunity not only to consult broadly with regional stakeholders, but also with potentially interested international parties. The process of developing the Schéma holds the potential to make the port known internationally and to generate international and regional support for the investments and activities required for the port to play its full role in opening up and developing the region.
Recommendation # 13
The new port has potential as a key generator of economic activity, to attract new investments and the opening of the region. Proactive measures are now required to activate port potential. In this regard: