Under Senegal’s national development framework, Plan Sénégal Émergent, the government aims to bolster job creation, infrastructure development and technology deployment across various sectors of the economy in an effort to position the country as an emerging economy.
Specifically, the country intends to reinvest a large amount of the revenue generated from first gas production in agriculture, a sector which employs more than 60% of the population.
With the country’s first major natural gas project – Greater Tortue Ahmeyim – set to come online early 2024, opportunities for stimulating further growth across the agriculture sector are soon to follow.
Agriculture represents one of Senegal’s biggest economic contributors, and the government has already launched several projects aimed at increasing, reinforcing and modernizing the agricultural production base. The most notable of these includes the Agropole project, an Agro-Industrial Processing Zone centered around spurring production and innovation by mobilizing private sector investment in agriculture activities. Spanning over 1,160 hectares, the Agropole project is designed to achieve food sovereignty in Senegal, and features regionally-based agro-industrial zones.
In an interview with Energy Capital & Power, Efraim Meslet, Country Director of Mitrelli, the Israeli business driving the Agropole project in Western Senegal, stated that, “Agropole is not only aimed at Western Senegal but the entire country. The proposal anticipates agropoles in several regions, including the north, south, center and west, with each region backed by development partners such as the Islamic Bank and the World Bank.”
The West Agropole project is committed to providing space and infrastructure to promote private sector growth, provide job opportunities, and assist small-scale farmers. The project will include agricultural hubs that will be outfitted with laying hens, animals, greenhouses and field crops. An agro-industrial development center also serves as the hub, overseeing water resources, post-harvest operations, packaging and marketing. This center will be critical in guaranteeing self-sufficiency and, if at all feasible, facilitating exports.
The project, which is scheduled to be completed in 2025, is anticipated to produce 3,000 direct and 8,000 indirect jobs, with annual earnings exceeding €15 million. In order to maximize local content, the Agropole project will also provide allocated spaces for nomadic herders’ animals, guaranteeing harmonious cohabitation. Agreements are being concluded to progress the project, and rigorous environmental assessments are being conducted to assure compliance with European lenders’ standards. Mitrelli is now on the ground, drawing out tracks and starting construction.
“The development of Senegal’s energy sector is critical to the project’s success,” Meslet stated. The business sector relies on a stable energy supply in order to start and expand activities inside the Agropole project. The project intends to connect to national power utility SENELEC’s network, which will be powered by backup generators and solar panels. Additionally, Meslet stated that, “The government intends to reinvest revenues from the booming gas sector into the project, reinforcing the importance of energy development for the country’s long-term growth.”
The Agropole project is a strategic step toward increasing Senegal’s agricultural potential and developing a self-sustaining ecosystem based on energy-driven infrastructure. The project’s success is dependent on a combined effort by the government, development partners and the business sector, cementing Senegal’s status as a pioneer in food sovereignty and agricultural development.
Companies interested in participating will be considered based on their potential for job creation, economic impact and returns on investment. “We target multinational and local companies with agro-industrial needs, and the focus will always be on self-sufficiency,” Meslet explains.
The forthcoming MSGBC Oil, Gas & Power 2023 event, which will be held in Nouakchott on November 21-22 under the patronage of President Mohamed Ould Ghazouani, will dedicate a session to exploring the vital role first gas revenue will play in developing the regional economy. Experts will delve into the various efforts adopted by MSGBC nations to assure a sustainable future for their people through the use of first gas earnings. For more information, click here.