Senegal moves into the fast lane with the opening of its toll highway

17/09/2013
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AfDB remains a key stakeholder in Senegal’s integrated infrastructure development projects. The new toll highway, which runs through Grand Dakar, is yet another example of this commitment. The vast construction project is now complete and the highway is officially open.

A long line of cars snakes calmly, as if in procession, along the new 32-kilometre (20-mile) strip of tarmac that runs through Grand Dakar. With some 100,000 vehicles passing through the city each day, the Senegalese capital had a long-standing congestion problem. Now, with its brand new state-of-the-art highway, a dramatic change is underway. It is also welcome relief for motorists, who are finally freed from the traffic jams that used to clog the city.

The first foundation stone was laid back in 2005, in Malick Sy. Some eight years later, the toll highway between Dakar and Diamniadio is finally complete. It was officially opened on August 1, 2013, following the completion of the second and final road section.

Official opening on August 1, 2013

According to Didier Payerne, Operations Director at Senac, the Senegalese subsidiary of French company Eiffage and operator of the highway, the journey between Dakar and Diamniadio should now take no more than 15 minutes during normal traffic conditions. In the past, this same journey would have taken 90 minutes. This represents “a saving of seven litres of fuel for private car drivers, or around 6,000 CFA,” according to his calculations.

Diène Farba Sarr, Managing Director of Apix, the Senegalese investment and major infrastructure project promotion agency, is keen to stress the exceptional nature of the project. “This is one of only a handful of highways in Africa built in urban areas,” he explains. “It’s a highway that will help to boost development.”

This was a massive project – both for Senegal and the wider region as a whole – on several levels, due to the sheer scale of the work involved, the financial cost (co-funded and supported by African Development Bank, the World Bank and Agence Française de Développement, among others), the number of people displaced by the project and its potential to improve access and break down barriers.

The official opening on August 1, 2013 was attended by Senegalese President Macky Sall, along with representatives from central and local government, technical and financial partners and civil society organizations. The highway was delivered to the timetable set by the authorities, following completion of the 20.4-km (12.7-mile) section between Pikine and Diamniadio and the construction of the Patte d’Oie toll plaza at Diamniadio.

The first privately-operated toll highway in the WAEMU region

Senac, the Senegalese subsidiary of Eiffage that specializes in public infrastructure projects, was awarded a 30-year contract to operate the highway in 2009. According to the company’s Operations Director, Didier Payerne, “the Senegalese government conducted a series of surveys, starting in 2005, to identify a toll fee that would be acceptable to the average Senegalese person. The toll fee is set by the government, not the operator.” According to Eiffage’s estimates, an average of 26,671 vehicles per day (VPD) will use the busiest section of the highway in 2013. This figure is expected to rise to 44,797 VPD by 2036.

This brand new highway is also one of the first examples of a road infrastructure project in Sub-Saharan Africa to be completed under a Public-Private Partnership (PPP).

Total investment of 380.2 billion CFA

For this project, the PPP agreement was between the Senegalese Government, the African Development Bank (AfDB), the World Bank (WB) and Agence Française de Développement (AFD), and several private partners, including Eiffage. In this particular instance, AfDB provided concessionary resources to support non-sovereign operations in a low-income country.

The total cost of the project stood at 375.5 million euros, with AfDB providing a preferential non-sovereign loan of 12 million euros, over a 15-year term, including a grace period of five years, as well as an additional credit facility of 1.5 million euros. With extensive experience in infrastructure projects in Senegal, the AfDB was able to provide long-term finance to make the project more economically viable, while ensuring that stringent social and environmental safeguards were put in place.

In addition to this non-sovereign finance package, the AfDB also provided a 51.5-million euro sovereign loan to the Senegalese Government.

Spin-off effects and related projects

As well as improving traffic conditions and freeing up the movement of goods and people in Dakar and the surrounding areas, the new highway is also expected to help reduce poverty by transforming the living conditions of local communities within the area covered by the project. To date, the highway project has created 930 jobs (800 during the construction phase and 130 during the launch phase). The new highway has also improved urban mobility, opened up access to security, transport, administrative, health and education services, and made it easier to access key tourist attractions in the city.

The new highway has also had several other positive spin-off effects, including the closure of the open-air waste site in Mbeubeuss, the creation of a new landfill waste site, the provision of new sanitation services, and reforestation of the area. Those people affected by the construction work (around 10,000 displaced families) have been compensated or relocated as needed, and are enjoying improved living conditions, including access to modern housing, cleaner air and better sanitation facilities.

With the new highway also creating new business opportunities and economic potential, both households and businesses should see increased revenue, in a region that has experienced rapid population growth in recent years (an average increase of 150,000 to 200,000 per year).

The project is also likely to give rise to new commercial areas around Thiès and Dakar, as well as the construction of a new shopping district. The current highway will be extended to include a link to the new Blaise Diagne International Airport in Diass, which is currently under construction and is scheduled for completion in late 2014. AfDB is also heavily involved in the airport construction project, as both the lead donor coordinator and main lender.

The toll highway is just one part of a much broader infrastructure development program in Senegal, which includes an extension to the Port of Dakar, the construction of the new international airport, and several other transport projects. These new infrastructure projects will help to stimulate economic growth in the manufacturing and industry sectors, as well as boosting tourism, making Senegal more competitive on the world stage.

Boosting regional integration

The toll highway between Dakar and Diamniadio is a vast project, with its influence stretching far beyond the local area, and even beyond the borders of Senegal. It is just one part of a much broader regional project, as the first section of the future Trans-African Highway between Dakar and Lagos, a vast 4,010-km (2,490-mile) road passing through the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), i.e. through Mali, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau and Gambia. This future Trans-African Highway is a key element of many of the priorities of the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA), and will help to boost long-distance trade in the region.