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Dakar-Diamniadio: Senegal’s Highway of Hope

Context

Dakar, the capital of Senegal, is facing the familiar challenges of rapid urbanization, including transportation, housing, mobility, and the security of goods and people.

Home to nearly a quarter of the Senegalese population of approximately 15 million people, Dakar sits on a peninsula and cannot expand further to the west, north or south.

The 45-kilometre Dakar-Diamniadio Highway has cut the journey between the city and its great suburb from 90 to 30 minutes, providing enormous relief. Of a total cost of nearly €388 million, the project received €65 million from the African Development Bank.

After opening in August 2013, the motorway made it easier for thousands of Senegalese to commute from their homes in the outlying suburbs to work in Dakar. Others bought apartments in the new urban and economic hub built around Diamniadio.

In addition to improving the lives of many living near the Dakar-Diamniadio motorway, it has added real value to the Senegalese economy, by serving the Blaise Diagne International Airport, which opened in December 2017, and making it easier to travel to tourist sites.

The motorway is helping to strengthen regional integration by improving the link between Senegal and countries of the sub-region, thereby benefiting both the Senegalese people and the countries of the sub-region.

Serge Marie N’Guessan, the Bank’s Country Manager for Senegal, observes, “This motorway is an ambitious project that ties together a number of the African Development Bank’s strategic priorities, including improving the quality of life for the people and regional integration. Dakar-Diamniadio forms part of the structural and transformational infrastructure of the Senegalese economy.” 

Objectives

Objective

Considered a model public-private partnership, the motorway is run as a concession by the French Eiffage Group. It aims to:

  • Reduce the demographic concentration in Dakar, home to 23% of the Senegalese population of approximately 15 million people.
  • Improve the quality of life of people living near the motorway at Pikine Irrégulier Sud and at Tivaouane Peul.
  • Encourage the creation of a new economic hub around Diamniadio.
  • Contribute to regional integration by facilitating access and travel within the country and beyond.

Impact

  • Reduced travel time has allowed many parents working in Dakar to return home earlier to work with their children on their schoolwork. For those in Diamniadio in need of medical attention, they could commute quickly to receive specialist care in Dakar.
  • During the construction phase, hundreds of jobs were created and particular attention was paid to recruiting women and appointing them to leadership roles.
  • The local economy got a real boost from the construction of a public market in Tivaouane Peul and the refurbishment of four markets in Pikine Irrégulier Sud.
  • The lives of the local population have been improved by the construction of two health centres in Tivaouane Peul and four health centres in Pikine Irrégulier Sud.
  • Education has received a boost with the construction of at least two 30-class primary schools and one 24-class secondary school, a new 2,000-pupil school was built and the 11 other schools were refurbished, and a new sports stadium built.
  • A multifunctional sports ground, a social and cultural centre and two mosques have been built, greatly improving the facilities available for local populations to enjoy.
  • Secure land tenancies were assured through the execution of title deeds for 100% of the housing in the priority program.
  • In preparation for the road construction, 1,200 families were compensated and 1,700 others were relocated to sites built for the purpose. Eight hundred and sixty hectares of urban land were then re-purposed and 27 kilometres of urban roads improved.

The Dakar-Diamnadio Road is far more than mere road infrastructure. Many Senegalese see it as a hopeful development, particularly those living in Dakar and its suburbs.

The airport served by the Dakar-Diamnadio Road opened in 2017 has become the gateway to Senegal for air travellers and a driver of the national economy by improving the accessibility and competitiveness of the port of Dakar and reducing travel time between Dakar, the airport, and the tourist areas of Mbour and Saly, located less than 100 kilometres to the southeast.

This construction reflects the determination of the African Development Bank to support the fight against poverty and to promote the transformation of the African economy through implementation of its High 5 strategic priorities.

Oumar Ka, head of the control center at motorway operator Eiffage

“We conduct real-time monitoring of the motorway and are able to offer users help within a maximum of 30 minutes. We can respond at any time, because we monitor the motorway 24 hours a day. If an accident occurs, we send a patrol immediately to prevent any further collisions. The fire and rescue service looks after any injured. Every aspect of our work is done in perfect harmony with other services such as the police and the fire brigade.”

Oumar Ka, head of the control center at motorway operator Eiffage 

Boubacar Ba, Diamniadio developer

“The motorway puts Diamniadio half way between Dakar and Thiès and only 10 minutes away from Blaise Diagne Airport. This strategic location adds value to the real estate in this whole area. I live in Thiès and it takes me under 35 minutes to get to work here in Diamniadio. And the Senegalese are buying into our plan to build nearly 100 apartment buildings on 38 hectares. Many of our fellow-countrymen are looking to buy apartments, with a starting price of 15 million FCFA. This changes everything: before this, a civil servant could reach the end of his or her career and go into retirement still not having owned their own home.”

Boubacar Ba, Diamniadio developer 

Khadidiatou Sow Bousso, head of maintenance and safety at Eiffage-Sénégal, operator of the Dakar-Diamniadio motorway

“As a woman civil engineer, I have no problem leading a team of 50 men. My role covers everything related to motorway-users' safety, including markings and assistance. Based on my experience, I can honestly say that there are no jobs exclusively for men. A woman can succeed everywhere as long as she has the skills needed for the post. It can be a struggle to be accepted in a senior position by some men. When this happens, all you have to do is demonstrate your tactfulness and competence. All my Senegalese sisters should go out to work, to seek out learning, to work alongside men and to love what they do.”

Khadidiatou Sow Bousso, head of maintenance and safety at Eiffage-Sénégal, operator of the Dakar-Diamniadio motorway

Sy Babou, owner-manager of the Carré d’As restaurant in Keur Massar, near Dakar

“Ever since the motorway opened, I have had customers coming to my restaurant from all over. I’ve gone from a first dining area with space for 70 customers to a second one with more or less the same capacity. I’m now thinking of building a third room to accommodate the demand that the motorway has brought. Whenever we open a new dining room, we take on the staff to go with it and we secure the services of new suppliers.”

Sy Babou, owner-manager of the Carré d’As restaurant in Keur Massar, near Dakar