Image: Dashu83 via Freepik
Senegal is constructing a $1.1 billion superport near the town of Ndayane, 50km southeast of the capital, Dakar. Dubbed the ‘Port of the Future’, the new multifunctional port will be technologically advanced and operationally efficient. By modernizing its current port infrastructure – critical as the country moves to develop its offshore discoveries – and prioritizing new port developments, Senegal is positioning itself as a West African trade hub, driving investment and facilitating a much-needed COVID-19 recovery.
Developing the deep-water seaport is Dubai-based logistics company DP World. According to the agreement signed on 23 December 2020 with the Dakar Port Authority, DP World will fund, design, and construct a greenfield port on a 600ha site roughly 50km from the country’s existing port, near the Blaise Diagne international airport, just north of Ndayane. The company’s involvement in the ‘Port of the Future’ project in Dakar comprises the largest private sector infrastructure investment in the history of Senegal.
DP World will begin the first phase of construction next year, which will require an initial capital investment of $837 million. This includes the construction of the terminal, 840m of quayside, and the excavation of a 5km-long waterway capable of accommodating 360m Chinamax boats, the world’s largest container vessels.
An additional $293m is currently under discussion to be invested by DP World during the second phase in which 410m of container quay will be installed as well as the dredging of the maritime channel to handle 400 million tons of cargo. Less than $0.6 billion of investment is estimated to remain to meet the total estimated required investment for the project.
“This will be DP World’s biggest port investment in Africa to date, and is a testament to our commitment to Senegal and belief in its potential for further economic growth,” stated Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, Group Chairman and CEO of DP World following the signing of the agreement. “The new port will create jobs, attract new foreign direct investment to the country, and enable new trading opportunities that bring about economic diversification.”
The proposed port will position Senegal as a West African trade and logistics hub, in line with H.E. President Macky Sall’s economic development plan, the Plan Senegal Emergent. The multifunctional port will comprise the optimal destination for West African port activities, attributed to the estimated 1.5 million tankers per year capacity, 18m depth, container terminal that will eventually feature over 3km of quay, and 300 ha of container yard. Additionally, the project will reduce congestion at the Port of Dakar, enabling the ports redevelopment into a mixed-use residential and commercial waterfront and cruise terminal.
“The Port of Ndayane, a major component of the port platform, gives our country back its leadership position thanks to its comparative advantages unlike any other in the sub-region,” stated Alioune Ndoye, Minister of Fisheries and Maritime Economy. “This port will be a powerful lever for growth, as a central link in the logistics chain, in line with the vision that his Excellency, the President of the Republic Macky Sall has set out in the plan Senegal Emergent to make our country an integrated and competitive logistics hub.”
DP World also plans to build a special economic zone near to the Port of Ndayane to increase Senegal’s appeal to global investors interested in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) region. The creation of the special economic zone will be fundamental for Senegalese citizens, driving economic growth and job creation.
“The Economic Zone will be modelled on DP World’s Jebel Ali Free Zone in Dubai, and will attract substantial foreign investment and constitute an important lever for the development of industries and services, which will create employment opportunities,” revealed Mamadou Diallo, External Relations Senior Officer at DP World to Energy Capital & Power.
He added that, “This new port will contribute to a significant increase in the volumes to be handled by the Port of Dakar, which will be able to fully play, as well as strengthen, its role as a key gateway to the ECOWAS zone and as an engine of growth for the economy.”
The port will be significant in driving a post-COVID-19 economic recovery in Senegal. According to the International Monetary Fund, despite the average economic rate of 6.38% between 2014 and 2019, due to the pandemic, Senegal’s growth rate was only 1% in 2020. The development of the port will not only enable new trade opportunities with international destinations, but will drive economic growth through job creation, economic diversification, and multi-sector investment.