5 steps for closing the “expectation gap” around Africa’s resources

West Africa receives $19bn in infrastructure development

Eight West African nations – namely Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali, Guinea-Bissau, Niger, Ivory Coast, Senegal and Togo – are set to benefit from a $19 billion investment to tackle their infrastructure deficits. The investment is the result of a partnership between the West African Development Bank (BOAD), the West Africa Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA), and Global Finance and Capital Ltd (GFCL). The regional bloc represents a population of 100 million.

The $19 billion investment includes the following three primary delegations:

  • Abu Dhabi’s Trojan General Contracting has won $16 billion to develop rail and road across Senegal, Mali and Burkina Faso;
  • Essar Projects, the UAE subsidiary of India’s Essar Group, will have $1.98 billion to use for airport, road, bridge and thermal power plant projects in Niger, Benin and Guinea-Bissua; and
  • Oman-based Hasan Juma Backer Trading and Contracting has $700 million to develop a dry port in Ivory Coast.

Speaking at last month’s West African Investment Forum in Dubai, Cheikhe Hadjibou Soumare, past president of Senegal and present-day president of the UEMOA commission, said the investment is “important for the future of our region and constitutes a paradigm shift for the union in the face of important infrastructure challenges”. He added that “These integrative infrastructure projects will have a strong regional impact. The West Africa Investment Forum heralds a new era of economic openness and is an opportunity to promote the region’s tremendous potential to institutional and private investors from around the world.”

Huge investment from UAE

“Dubai is today the centre of business,” said Beninese president Thomas Yani Boyi. “The UAE is a real reference of growth and progress.” He praised the new deal with West Africa, saying “We have a lot of natural resources and wealth in our countries”. He also described the projects as the beginning of “a Marshall Plan” for West Africa.

Backed by immense oil wealth, Emirati businesses have over recent years been determinedly investing abroad, with Africa a primary destination owing to its high growth potential.

Trojan General Contracting is one of the UAE’s fast-growing construction firms, boasting operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Jordan, Morocco, Russia, and the Seychelles, and now in West Africa too. It is known as the “Construction Arm of the Royal Group” and is owned by Tahnoon bin Zayed Al Nahyan, a member of the Abu Dhabi royal family.

David Okwara

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