DP World to build $1.1bn superport in Senegal

Dubai port operator DP World has signed an agreement with the government of Senegal to develop a deep water seaport at the town of Ndayane, about 50km southeast of the capital, Dakar.

According to the deal with Dakar Port Authority, DP World will finance, design and build a greenfield port on a 600ha site near the Blaise Diagne international airport, which lies just to the north of Ndayane, including a 300ha container terminal that the company will then operate.

DP World Dakar, the Senegalese subsidiary of DP World, will invest $837m in the first phase and $290m in the second, making it the largest private sector infrastructure investment in the history of the country.

The first phase will include the terminal, 840m of quayside and the dredging of a 5km-long channel that will be able to accommodate 360m Chinamax vessels, presently the largest class of container vessels in the world.

The ability to handle very large container chips, which global carriers increasingly regard as essential to their economic future, will put Senegal at an advantage compared with other West African ports, most of which do not have the depth or the facilities to accommodate them.

Phase 2 will create 410m of additional container quay and dredge of the channel to allow the handling of 400m-long vessels.

DP World took over the Port of Dakar, complete with Senegal’s only deepwater harbour and container terminal, in 2007.

The company said in 2017 that it had reached agreement with the Senegalese government on land allocation for a major new port near the Blaise Diagne international airport, called Port du Futur. 

In February 2020, the company was reported to be close to finalising agreements on the construction of the Port du Futur. 

DP World’s statement on 23 December announcing this latest agreement suggests the parties had since been exploring an expansion of the existing Port of Dakar, which is constrained by its location within the city, but then switched back to the new site.

"DP World’s concession for the Port of Dakar, already includes a plan to develop a new container port," it said. "However, after discussions between Macky Sall, president of Senegal, and Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, chairman and chief executive of DP World, it was agreed that it would be more appropriate for Senegal’s development to carry out a more ambitious project and build an entirely new port outside of the city."

In the future, the container terminal may eventually have more than 3km of quay. This will enable the existing Port of Dakar to be redeveloped as a mixed-use residential and commercial waterfront and cruise terminal.

Image: A view over the existing Dakar container terminal (DP World)

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