Construction work on the initial phase of Algeria’s $3.3bn El-Hamdania port is expected to begin in March, according to local media reports.

This follows the completion of the detailed study of the project in December last year and the government’s recent approval of the project

The initial phase of the port, located within 80 kilometres south of capital Algiers, is expected to be completed in 2021.

With a budget estimated at $3.3bn, the commercial port will include 23 berths with a 20-metre draft.

The port will have an annual handling capacity of 6.3 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs).

Once completed the port will become Africa’s second largest next to Morocco’s Tanger Med, which has a capacity of 9 million TEU.

It is understood two industrial zones covering 2,000 hectares will be established within the proximity of the port, which will seek to attract transhipment business from West Africa and Europe.

According to local media reports, China Cosco Shipping, has suggested that it could make El-Hamdania its hub in the western Mediterranean Sea.

A joint venture was formed in January 2916 to develop the port. The joint venture comprises China Harbour Engineering and China State Construction Engineering Corporation, which jointly hold a 49 percent stake in the operating company. The remaining 51 percent stake will be taken by the Algerian Ports Authority.

The African Development Bank has agreed to provide $900m in funding facility, with the rest to be provided by a consortium of Chinese banks.