The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank Group have approved additional financing of $5.4 million for the future Digital Technology Park in Diamniadio, Senegal.
AfDB confirmed its support for the project initiated in 2016 thanks to an initial loan of $65 million it extended to the country. Although the project is now about 80 per cent complete, the COVID-19 crisis caused a delay in construction due to global inflation on the materials costs and supply chain disruptions.
With this new loan, the Bank is assuming 87 per cent of the total project cost with the Senegalese government contributing the equivalent of $10.2 million. The Senegalese Ministry of Economy, Planning and Cooperation is coordinating the aid through its Directorate of Economic and Financial Cooperation.
The 25-hectare future park is being developed in the emerging Diamniadio urban hub, located about 35 km from the capital, Dakar. Some 20 companies, including multinationals such as ATOS, Free (formerly Tigo Senegal) and Solution Informatique Durable (SOLID), have expressed interest in locating some of their activities in the future park. However, they need a solid communication infrastructure to operate.
This loan will help equip the planned data centre within the Park with a state-of-the-art storage and processing architecture through an international tender. “This project will help diversify and modernise Senegal’s economy and private sector,” said Marie-Laure Akin-Olugbade, AfDB Director General for West Africa. “This Park will transform Senegal into a regional digital hub, thus providing digital solutions to alreadỳ existing industries, such as the agricultural sector,” she said. The goal is to increase the ICT sector’s share of economic activitý from the current 7 per cent to 10 per cent by 2026.
In addition to the data centre, components of the ambitious project include business process outsourcing facilities, an ICT incubator, a training centre, a research centre, and audio-visual production and content development centre. The project also provides for institutional support, capacity building, and the establishment of a management team responsible for its implementation. “The ICT sector is one of the most advanced in West Africa and the project will benefit an entire ecosystem,” said Cherfi Mohammed, the Bank’s Country Manager in Senegal, adding that “This includes communication service operators, Internet service providers, multi-nationals, as well as some 30,000 men and women working in various ICT-related fields such as sales, networking, systems design and software and content development. The innovative solutions which will be developed in the Park will also benefit government entities which will be able to improve the delivery of public services.”
The Future Park is at the heart of the Digital Senegal 2025 strategy which aims to create around 35,000 direct jobs from activities such as call centres, software/hardware engineers and application development engineers. It also envisages creating around 105,000 indirect jobs in housing, telecommunications, real estate rental, transportation, catering and other support services.