Dubai developers explore the African frontier in Senegal property project

Dubai developers explore the African frontier in Senegal property project

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A number of Gulf developers have been discussing property developments in Senegal during the visit of President Abdoulaye Wade to Dubai in April.President Wade has been looking for partners for the development of a new administrative city to house the Senegalese government. The exact plans for the new development remain undetermined as yet but a number of companies from Dubai have lined up to develop property in the new free zone, close to the country’s new airport and about 40 km from Dakar, the present Senegalese capital. Grants of development land in the Senegal economic Zone (SEZ) are being negotiated for Jafza International, and its subsidiaries Dubai World, Limitless and Economic Zones World, Nakheel, and Istithmar.

Among the Emirates business people meeting with President Wade was Dr Abdulla Shaaban, CEO of the Abu Dhabi branch of Tameer of Bahrain. Tameer, also known as Al Khaleej Development Company has assets and projects under management of $3bn. Up until now the company’s interests have been concentrated on Bahrain and to a small extent in neighbouring gulf states.

Jafza International, part of Dubai’s Jebel Ali Free Zone Authority has taken a leading role in negotiating the development of the SEZ, undertaking two feasibility studies and signing a memorandum of understanding with the Senegalese government last December. The first phase of development is expected to provide employment for 30,000 people. Jafza now has an interest in 10,000 ha in the 40 sq km development zone. Projects such as SEZ are just the kind of investment that Economic Zones World was launched to invest in in January 2007.

Rather than Striking out with a new capital in a more central location, like Brasilia, President Wade is planning his new capital in the immediate hinterland of the Dakar metropolitan area. Dakar Metropolitan Area itself has a population of nearly 2.5 million people and Wade is hoping to stem the city’s unplanned growth.

Contracts with Gulf-based property developers illustrate the President’s Plan Omega, which he publicised at the international forum for world leaders at Davos earlier in the year. The President is seeking to use bilateral and commercial agreements to provide investment for infrastructure projects in a plan that covers the entire African continent.

Although there has been unrest in Senegal’s southern Casamance River region, the country is one of the most stable in sub-Saharan Africa with relatively good democratic credentials. Per capita GDP is about $1,750 and the currency is the CFA franc. Currently, there are no direct airline flights between Dakar and anywhere in the Gulf but the Senegalese are hoping that Emirates will agree to launch a service in late 2008.