Global trade enabler DP World has revealed plans to build and operate a 1,000-hectare logistics hub near the Republic of Mali’s capital Bamako. The hub will help increase trade relations in west Africa through simplified procedures and paperless transactions.

The Mali Logistics Hub will be built as part of a 20-year agreement between DP World and the Republic of Mali and will feature inland container depots and container freight stations (CFS) to facilitate the import and export of goods. Construction is expected to begin in 2019 and to be completed within 18 months.

Located on the main corridor linking Dakar, Senegal and Bamako, the hub will be capable of handling 300,000 000 TEU (twenty-foot equivalent units), 4 million tonnes of bulk, as well as general cargo.

Online paperless transaction platforms will be used at the hub to accelerate the movement of goods, according to DP World.

The first phase of the project, which will be completed thanks to an initial $50m investment, will support the growth of the Malian economy by facilitating the import and export of goods.

The agreement was signed by DP World Middle East and Africa CEO and managing director Suhail Al Banna and Republic of Mali Minister of Equipment and Transport Moulaye Ahmed Boubacar in Singapore earlier this week.

DP World chairman and CEO Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, said: “The Malian market is expected to grow over the next two decades and is driven by a robust economic and population growth. Thus, the Mali Logistics Hub is much needed and will provide the country with a logistics platform that aims to facilitate the import and export of goods via the Port of Dakar, which is operated by DP World.

“DP World’s investment will significantly cut processing times for goods and thus facilitate trade. We are committed to enabling trade in the region and helping local businesses and people prosper.”

As part of the deal, the company will also provide the Republic of Mali with three locomotive trains that will boost cargo and passenger traffic on the Bamako-Dakar rail network. The hub will also be used to reduce processing times for products entering the Malian market in a bid to support trade and economic development.

Mali Minister of Equipment and Transport Boubacar said: “The Mali Logistics Hub will dramatically improve the cost and time of trade for Mali. The project will provide us with a first-class logistics facility comparable to global standards and will be the largest in terms of capacity”.

“We are confident that with DP World as a partner we will be able to meet the expectations of our people, traders and exporters to have access to more markets and to bring more efficiency and cost effectiveness to international trade. The project also gives the Republic of Mali the opportunity to be connected to global trade lanes, and to speed up access and transport in and out of the country.”