Senegal’s vibrant economy fuels ambitious infrastructure plan

The last step in a vast infrastructure development program, Senegalese President Macky Sall inaugurated this weekend a new level 3 hospital with 300 beds in Touba, one of the most modern in West Africa. The completion of the Cheikh Ahmadou Khadim hospital, worth 40 billion francs, is a major boost for the health sector in Senegal, which is undergoing a complete overhaul as part of plans to build several new facilities and modernization of old regional hospitals.

The partnership with Ellipse Projects is a success

The successful inauguration of the Touba hospital marks the seal of Senegal’s partnership with the French engineering and project management company Ellipse Projects, in charge of the construction of the establishment. At the inauguration alongside company CEO Olivier Picard, President Macky Sall praised the company, enthusiastic about the fact that “there is no doubt that [Ellipse Projects] is up to the task; this is how we want to work with companies, this fast and careful work.

Dakar’s partnership with Ellipse Projects goes well beyond the Touba hospital: the French company was also responsible for the construction of the Kaffrine, Sédhiou and Kédougou hospitals as part of a 150 million euros contract. relating to the carrying out of studies, the construction of installations and the supply of medical and technical equipment. services. More recently, Senegal entrusted Ellipse Projects with the mission of 250 billion francs to renovate and modernize the country’s judicial infrastructure, a project that will affect nearly 70 buildings, including the Supreme Court.

Driving progress in a variety of sectors

The launch of the Touba hospital is also the latest sign that Dakar is embarking on an ambitious plan to invest in infrastructure, in the health sector and beyond, which could allow Senegal’s national infrastructure to finally catch up. its economic growth.

For more than a century, Senegal’s strategic value – particularly through its port city of Dakar – was as a conduit to the African continent for international traders. More recently, the government has prepared the country for an independent and prosperous future.

The ten-year “Senegal Emerging Plan” (PSE), launched in 2014, includes a range of infrastructure projects designed to improve the quality of life of citizens, as well as to support the country’s transition from an agriculture-based economy. , trade and tourism. to one who capitalizes on Senegal’s vast offshore oil and gas deposits.

Although the PES has been revised in light of the Covid-19 pandemic to stimulate more private investment, while promoting the twin goals of sustainable growth and economic resilience, upgrading the country’s infrastructure remains paramount.

Industries related to the oil and gas sector are expected to gain momentum as the country’s energy resources are monetized over the next decade: large-scale infrastructure, transportation, aviation and logistics projects in Sall will set the stage for this expansion, attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) not only in the lucrative oil and gas industry, but also in more established sectors like tourism.

Stimulate essential travel and transport links

Construction work on the Ourossogui-Matam airport in northeastern Senegal has already started. The cost of the works of 14 billion francs will be partly financed by the Czech Bank for Exports and the Czech Export Credit Agency. This is a component of a more detailed program aimed at building airport infrastructure to international standards. Other projects in this initial phase include the redevelopment of Kédougou, Tambacounda and Ziguinchor airports, with investments in eight other regional airports which will be the subject of a planned second phase.

Ambitious investments are also supporting the progress of the high-speed Regional Express Train (TER) project which will make it possible to travel from Dakar to Blaise Diagne international airport in less than 45 minutes. Work to unify transport links across the city is underway and will support the increase in passenger numbers in the capital – up to 115,000 per day.

Senegal’s highways are undergoing a parallel transformation to promote easier regional and sub-regional integration. The Dakar-Diamniadio-AIBD toll motorway will include nearly 50 km of motorway between Dakar and the airport, while the motorway linking Dakar and Thiès is being extended; in both cases, the improvements aim to relieve congestion in the city center. It is believed that these new transport arteries will foster wider trade growth and establish an international route connecting neighboring landlocked countries along the MSGBC basin.

Get back on track

Before the pandemic, Senegal recorded one of the strongest economic growths in Africa. Although this has slowed down sharply over the past 18 months, negatively affecting tourism and exports, government intervention through its Economic and Social Resilience Plan (ESRP) has helped protect lives – and livelihoods – of its citizens.

The recovery should be gradual, but with the reforms induced by the PSE, a return to the country’s growth trajectory is possible. The Senegalese economy was booming before the pandemic; its GDP grew 5.3% in 2019 alone, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Analysts expect the economy to return to 5.1% growth in 2021 and 6% in 2022, as long as the pandemic is brought under control.

With the pandemic threatening to neutralize socio-economic gains to date, however, an influx of private investment will be essential if Senegal’s economic progress is to be sustained. Progress on oil and gas projects has been stunted by the global health crisis and is not expected to contribute significantly to revenues until the middle of the next decade. Meanwhile, traditional industries continue to dominate; agriculture remains the dominant force in the country’s economy.

The challenge facing Sall’s government will be to mitigate the impact of the pandemic, while fostering sustainable and inclusive growth. It is hoped that further public investment in new infrastructure (and at the same time in job creation) will not only improve regional and national connectivity, but also foster the capacity of the private sector, enabling it to become more competitive and, in turn, ultimately, more productive.

If Senegal can focus on developing the resources needed to fund a broader socio-economic transformation, this will surely pave the way for a better future.

Image: Macky Sall via MONUSCO Photos / Flickr

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