Bollore pitches for revamp of Gambia's main port: sources

Wed Jun 14, 2017 5:54pm GMT

By Emma Farge and Mathieu Rosemain

DAKAR/PARIS (Reuters) - France's Bollore Group has submitted an offer to develop Gambia's main port as part of a deal worth hundreds of millions of dollars, three sources familiar with the matter said, as competition for contracts heats up after a change in government.

Foreign investors are vying for business in riverine Gambia, which has a population of just 2 million and a GDP of around $900 million, following 22 years of autocratic rule.

Yahya Jammeh was eventually driven into exile from the West African country through a combination of pleas and military threats after losing an election.

The Banjul port at the mouth of the Gambia River -- a key transport lane for shipping peanuts -- has been run for decades by a government agency.

Industry sources say activities were limited by the port's size and the heavy involvement of the army.

But they say trade has the potential to boom, given its proximity to a major Atlantic sea lane and improved relations with neighbouring Senegal, which surrounds it on three sides.

Senegal is also working with its neighbour to complete a long-awaited bridge that will help link Dakar and Lagos via a coastal road.

French billionaire Vincent Bollore's firm, which already has a sprawling African business empire, signalled its interest in the project shortly after President Adama Barrow was sworn in in February and was part of a French investment delegation in May, according to the industry, banking and diplomatic sources who asked not to be named as talks continue.   Continued...

Returnees from Barra seen on arrival at Banjul Port a day after President Yahya Jammeh departed Banjul, Gambia for exile January 22, 2017 REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde
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