With the new airport, Senegal hopes to be West Africa’s air hub

Friday, December 08, 2017

The commissioning of the Senegal’s new international airport will effectively place the country to become an emerging competitor in West Africa’s air industry.

The Blaise Diagne International Airport is an international airport near the town of Diass, Senegal. It serves as a new airport for Dakar, as the old Léopold Sédar Senghor International Airport became too small for future operations.

The country hopes to become a travel hub for the region. Airport International Blaise-Diagne, had faced more than 10 years of delays, and is meant to anchor Senegal’s economic and tech center. The government is aiming for 5 million passengers in 2023 and 10 million in 2035.

The airport has had mixed reviews with its location of more than 50 kilometers (31 miles) from the capital, Dakar. A connecting train service is still years from completion.

A number of cities in West Africa are competing to be the region’s air hub including Lome, Togo, which is the base of operations for ASKY Airlines, and Abidjan, Ivory Coast.

The airport was originally expected to be operational at the end of the year 2011 but this date was pushed back by almost a year in September of that year in September 2012, Senegalese Prime Minister Abdoul Mbaye announced that the airport would open in the first quarter of 2014 In January 2015, word spread that the airport would open in June 2015.

The airport is named after Blaise Diagne a Senegalese born French political leader and mayor of Dakar. Diagne was the first black African elected to the French Chamber of Deputies, and the first to hold a position in the French government.

In April, 2015 Reuters announced a new opening date for early 2016. Construction of the new airport is almost 90% complete. The latest estimate is for the airport to open for operations on December 7, 2017

The expected building costs have risen to 566 million euros with over 400 million coming from the Saudi Binladin Group.

Economic hopes are highly expected for this West African country, with the new airport expected to employ hundreds of people. Senegal, like The Gambia faces great deal of youth unemployment, forcing many of its citizens risk their lives in attempt to cross the Mediterranean Sea. With this new international airport, significant number of young people would be able to secure employment which could be able to reduce the Senegalese ‘backway’ syndrome.

The airport will also give the country a sort of jump by adding impetus to the economy. It will help the Senegalese air industry to improve on the standard to out compete potential competitors in the West African air industry. 

Source: Picture: Blaise Diagne