New Diamniado City in Senegal to ease congestion in Dakar
The government of Senegal is laying the groundwork for its new city project in Diamniadio, which is set to host a 50-hectare industrial park, a new airport, and a university, amongst other facilities. The idea for the city was developed to help deal with the urbanisation pressure on Dakar, the country’s capital, as well as provide the country with more opportunities in housing, investment, and revenue.
The project is one of the many steps taken by Senegal’s President, Macky Sall to double the country’s growth by 2020. A key aspect of Sall’s agenda for Senegal is to encourage foreign investments and reduce dependence on agriculture, fishing and tourism. Senegal’s dependence on agriculture hurt it’s economy in 2011 after a slowdown, but recovered in 2012. However, the rising climate challenges and other external factors have instigated the need for diversification of sources.
The city of Dakar was initially designed by the French colonial administration in the 1960s. The narrow roads have created heavy traffic congestion in the capital over the years, coupled with little or no space for housing and building of other infrastructures such as schools in the area.The Diamniado project would help ease the pressure and congestion in the city – Dakar hosts about 25% of the national population, with almost 80% of the country’s economic activity.
Senegal has suffered financial losses adding up to 100billion CFA francs annually as a result of poor infrastructure. The need to improve urban mobility has always been at the front burner for Senegal as it negatively affects the country’s economic standing. Business owners have inevitably suffered losses due to bad infrastructure in the capital as companies have relocated their businesses to neighbouring cities and countries.
Another issue the Diamniado project is expected to address is the poor state of housing and real estate in Dakar. A report by Senegal National Statistic Agency revealed that increased population growth in the capital resulted in a 256 percent increase in property price between 1994 and 2010. Although the government made frantic efforts by introducing programmes to provide free housing and land, different levels subsidies and tax breaks, and a rent control law, the implementation of the law is stifled by the lack of space in the capital and mechanism to regulate future rent prices. This is why the new city project might provide a more feasible solution to housing problems in Senegal’s capital.
As a way of attracting residents from Dakar to the new city, the government plans to relocate 12 ministries to the area, and also build leisure centres such as golf courses and shopping malls. Last year, a highway connecting Dakar to the new city was opened and there are plans to also establish a regional express train station linking Dakar to the new airport under construction in Diamniado. The project has attracted bids from investors and reports confirm that the government commenced the approval in 2013.
Poor infrastructure has been a major issue for African countries as it is tied to the development and growth of other sectors of the economy. Although some have described Sall’s new city project as ambitious and doubt its successful completion, it is a step in the right direction for the West African country and its success could spur remarkable economic growth.
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