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Senegal pressure valve

Diamniadio Lake City is a development 30 kilometres from Dakar which is being built to ease pressure on Senegal's overcrowded capital. Natasha Turak speaks to representatives from Semer Group, which will soon start construction work on the project, to discover what it will entail.

A new city 30 kilometres from Dakar is planned to ease the Senegalese capital’s congestion and meet the country's need for modern office facilities and a dedicated business zone. Diamniadio Lake City (DLC) is a recently announced project covering more than 500,000 square metres.

The mixed-use development planned at the heart of Diamniadio is described as a 'city within a city', and aims to create financial, residential and recreational districts where, its developers say, residents can “live, work and play”.

Working with government

As DLC carries a price tag of $2bn, the project’s developer Semer Group, a real estate investor with offices in the United Arab Emirates and Senegal, is working with the Senegalese government as well as other yet-to-be-named companies.

Semer Group’s memorandum of understanding with the government for the DLC Masterplan was only signed in the past few months; the group now has the land and will begin construction this year, while the timeframe for building the new city is 10 years. 

Facilities within the project’s grounds include 680,000 square metres of office space, 560,000 square metres of residential area, 160,000 square metres of retail and 50,000 square metres of five-star hotels. Embassies, ministries and two universities are also expected to move to the new city. The government is aiming for a target population of 300,000.

“The DLC project consists of setting up the real estate, housing, high-end residential hotels and industrial parks. For this reason, we’re asking developers to apply for land to develop for mixed use in 57 hectares,” says Diène Marcel Diagne, CEO of Semer Group.

“As the capital is so densely populated, we are looking to expand it to another city – a city in a city. That is why the general delegation of the urban port of Diamniadio is initiating this huge project,” says Mr Diagne. “In Dakar, finding international-standard office space is a big problem. We have adapted our designs on an international level so when multinational companies come, they will see exactly their own standard. So we are very confident that the project will be a success.”

Safe environment

Asked about the site choice, Mr Diagne says: “Senegal has been recognised for being among the safest countries in Africa, as well as for its ease of doing business.” The project, he adds, stems back to Senegal president Macky Sall’s vision for an emerging Senegal, and has been in the pipeline since 2014. It is being bolstered by a $500m Chinese investment in a nearby industrial park, as well as the publicly funded construction of the new Train Express Regional rail line, set for completion in 2018.

The geographical nature of DLC, says chief architect and Semer Group project director Hussein Bakri, is a gateway to western and sub-Saharan Africa. “It will always be known as the gateway of the west because it’s the furthest west seaport in Africa, but now it will be a central business district – not just for Senegal and the Central African Republic, but for west and sub-Saharan Africa as well.”

The UN's African headquarters is being built 5 kilometres away, while the Leopold Sedar-Senghor airport serving Dakar is 20 kilometres from DLC. “The new train station here will have a high-speed network and the new minerals port – a huge infrastructure project for the harbour – will be about 30 minutes away, and will serve to look after agriculture and exports, and oil and gas,” says Mr Bakri.

“So when you look at the fundamentals of economic prosperity and couple that with the democracy and transparency and population growth – and the fact that Africa is the only untapped continent left for development like this – all of a sudden it’s bringing sub-Saharan Africa to life and becomes the hub of west Africa.” 

This article is sourced from fDi Magazine
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