High­way to Suc­cess

Sene­gal’s road net­work gets a ma­jor boost that will ben­e­fit do­mes­tic and re­gional trade

ChinAfrica - - OPINION - By Gi­tonga Njeru

Ph­llipe Adama is a sea­soned fruit farmer in Sene­gal. He prac­tices mixed farm­ing of dif­fer­ent crops in his ex­pan­sive 4-hectare farm, and cur­rently ex­ports his pro­duce mostly to Europe, with a small per­cent­age go­ing to China.

Poor road net­works have hin­dered farm­ers such as Adama from achiev­ing their full po­ten­tial in the past. How­ever, this is about to change. Part of a new road net­work of 70 km was re­cently com­pleted, link­ing his ru­ral home­town of Pam­bal to the coun­try’s cap­i­tal Dakar.

$860 mil­lion worth of agri­cul­tural prod­ucts pro­duced in Sene­gal each year

With the ad­vent of new trans­port op­por­tu­ni­ties brought by the road net­work, Adama is in­creas­ing his pro­duc­tion.

“A lot of my pro­duce would spoil be­cause when it rains, the pre­vi­ous dirt road would be­come muddy. My trans­port ve­hi­cles would be stuck for days wait­ing to trans­fer pro­duce to Dakar. Now the road net­work is com­plete and things are much eas­ier,” said Adama.

“I can get more than dou­ble the rev­enue from hor­ti­cul­ture as I did one and a half years ago. For ex­am­ple, on a good har­vest day, I pro­duce about $2,300 com­pared to $800 as a re­sult of per­ished goods from de­lays on the pre­vi­ous dirt roads,” said Adama.

Once the road net­works are fully com­pleted, agri­cul­tural pro­duc­tion is ex­pected to in­crease across the en­tire re­gion. Ac­cord­ing to the Food and Agri­cul­ture Or­ga­ni­za­tion (FAO), a United Na­tions agency,

Sene­gal cur­rently pro­duces $860 mil­lion worth of agri­cul­tural pro­duce each year.

In the Pam­bal area of the Thies re­gion in west Sene­gal, Adama is among sev­eral farm­ers grow­ing vegeta­bles and fruit who sell in Dakar for over­seas ex­port. Water­mel­ons, cour­gettes, toma­toes, pump­kins and man­goes are all grown in the area.

Adama’s neigh­bor Sekou Sam­bou has a 202-hectare farm and is also up­beat about the new roads.

“Trans­port­ing goods is much eas­ier [now]. But it will take a while be­fore the to­tal road net­work is com­pleted,” he said.

Sam­bou said the ini­tial im­prove­ments have def­i­nitely helped him get his pro­duce to mar­ket faster. A jour­ney of 3.5 hours now takes just un­der an hour and wastage from poor weather de­lays have been elim­i­nated, he said.

Vast road net­work

Ac­cord­ing to Sene­galese Prime Min­is­ter Ma­ham­mad Boun Ab­dal­lah Dionne, China plans to add an ex­ten­sive 30,000-km of roads, mostly high­ways, within a four-tofive-year time frame in the re­gion.

“This might sound over am­bi­tious but I can guar­an­tee you most of the high­ways are cur­rently un­der con­struc­tion. For in­stance, the Dakar-cairo High­way con­struc­tion has been launched. It will cover 8,636 km link­ing Dakar to agri­cul­tural towns and be­yond bor­ders,” Dionne said.

Dionne said this high­way will link Sene­gal to Mau­ri­ta­nia, Morocco, Tu­nisia, Chad, and even­tu­ally Egypt. While se­cu­rity con­cerns along this route re­quire ur­gent at­ten­tion, Dionne said he is col­lab­o­rat­ing with all the gov­ern­ments con­cerned to find a so­lu­tion.

He noted that the high­ways link­ing Dakar to the Thies re­gion, cov­er­ing 113 km will be com­pleted by the end of 2019, while an­other 194km road link from Dakar to Touba

8,636 km length of the Dakar­cairo High­way that is un­der con­struc­tion 30,000 km length of the roads China plans to add within a fourto-five-year time frame in Sene­gal $8 bln The amount of China’s in­vest­ment in the road net­work ini­tia­tive over a five-year pe­riod

is planned to be func­tional at the end of Septem­ber this year.

Dionne con­firmed that China will in­vest about $8 bil­lion on the road net­work ini­tia­tive over a five-year pe­riod, em­pha­siz­ing that the in­fra­struc­ture would ben­e­fit trade in the re­gion as a whole and not just Sene­gal.

Over $239 mil­lion worth of trade is gen­er­ated by Sene­gal an­nu­ally and 30 per­cent of the trade is be­tween re­gional coun­tries ac­cord­ing to the World Bank. It is ranked 143rd world­wide in terms of trade vol­ume by the Bret­ton Woods in­sti­tu­tion.

Cur­rently, Sene­gal has more than 14,785 km of roads ac­cord­ing to the World Bank in­di­ca­tors of de­vel­op­ment of 2016.

Abdourahmane Sarr, one of Sene­gal’s lead­ing economists says that Sene­gal has a bright fu­ture.

“Sene­gal has one of the fastest grow­ing economies in the world, but with the on­go­ing con­struc­tion of ma­jor high­ways, more growth will be felt, with good re­sults by 2021,” he said.

sene­gal has one of the fastest grow­ing economies in the world, but with the on­go­ing con­struc­tion of ma­jor high­ways, more growth will be felt, with good re­sults by 2021. ABDOURAHMANE SARR Sene­galese econ­o­mist

In­fra­struc­ture boost

Sene­gal’s in­fra­struc­ture is see­ing much ex­pan­sion in 2018. Apart from the road net­work un­der­way, a 1,282-km rail­way line ex­tend­ing to Mali and cost­ing $2.73 bil­lion was launched by Sene­galese Pres­i­dent Macky Sall in Fe­bru­ary. This was af­ter Mali and Sene­gal signed an agree­ment for the project to be un­der­taken by China Rail­way Con­struc­tion Corp. Ltd.

China and Sene­gal re­la­tions have been im­prov­ing over the years. Sene­gal is one of China’s clos­est al­lies ac­cord­ing to Pro­fes­sor David Kikaya, for­mer Kenyan Am­bas­sador to the United Na­tions Hu­man Set­tle­ments Pro­gram.

“Re­la­tions be­tween the two coun­tries have been im­prov­ing since the 1990s. The po­si­tion of Sene­gal as an eco­nomic pow­er­house in West Africa is an ad­van­tage to many de­vel­op­ment part­ners,” he said.

Ac­cord­ing to the United Na­tions Con­fer­ence on Trade and De­vel­op­ment, Sene­gal ex­ports about 106,200 tons of fruits and vegeta­bles an­nu­ally.

But ac­cord­ing to its cur­rent Di­rec­tor Gen­eral Muky­isa Ki­tuyi, ex­ports will triple once the cur­rent wave of in­fra­struc­ture is in place.

“Ob­vi­ously growth will not be felt overnight. Give it about three to four years. [In ad­di­tion to the com­pre­hen­sive road net­work planned] the Dakar Port is in per­fect shape, the air­port in Touba is in good shape and the govern­ment is in early talks with China to build new air­ports,” said Ki­tuyi who once served as Kenya’s Trade Min­is­ter.

In July, Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping paid a state visit to Sene­gal, the first stop of his tour to the African con­ti­nent. Sene­gal is the first West African coun­try to part­ner with China as part of its Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive.

* re­port­ing from Sene­gal * Com­ments to niyan­shuo@chi­nafrica.cn

Road in­fra­struc­ture de­vel­op­ment is vi­tal for im­prov­ing trade in ru­ral Africa

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