A trio of commercial banks has agreed to lend €90mn towards a new dry bulk port in Côte d’Ivoire, as the West African country works to modernise its ageing trade infrastructure and grow export volumes.

Rand Merchant Bank (RMB) and Standard Bank are acting as mandated lead arrangers (MLA) on the 10-year senior debt financing, while local media reports indicate Stanbic is the other lender to be involved in the deal. RMB did not confirm the names of all lenders when contacted by GTR.

The funding supports the development of a multi-purpose bulk terminal in San Pedro, which is the second largest port in Côte d’Ivoire, behind Abidjan.

The port is being developed by Arise Ports & Logistics, the majority shareholder of Terminal Industriel Polyvalent de San Pedro (TIPSP), a company incorporated in Côte d’Ivoire which won the 35-year concession to build and operate the terminal six years ago.

Arise is backed by shipping and trading giants AP Moller Capital and Olam International as well as the African Finance Corporation.

The concession grants TIPSP exclusive rights to handle the import of cement clinker, gypsum, limestone, fertilisers and hydrocarbons as well as the export of manganese, nickel, lithium and palm oil.

“The port of San Pedro, built in the 1970s, is currently congested with limited capacity to support the growing volumes of goods handled by the port. The concession, and construction of the dry bulk port is, therefore, expected to have a significant developmental impact on the region,” RMB says.

In the past, trade out of the Francophone country has relied on the primary port in Abidjan, but the bank says the San Pedro port can capture a “significant amount” of traffic currently going through other West African ports.

It says the transhipment hub is tipped to service hinterland or landlocked countries, such as Mali, Liberia, Burkina Faso and Guinea.

Last month, the Côte d’Ivoire government secured €104mn for a project to renovate a 93km stretch of road between the economic capital Abidjan and San Pedro, which backers say will also boost trade links in the country.