On Saturday, March 26, Senegalese President Macky Sall officially inaugurated the Foundiougne Bridge, the longest of its kind in the West African country. The 1.6 kilometer-bridge, which was named after former South African President Nelson Mandela, stretches over the Saloum River and connects the cities of Fatick and Foundiougne. The Nelson Mandela Toll Bridge should shorten the journey and reduce the cost of travel from the northern and central parts of the country to the southern natural region known as the Casamance. It should also promote the exchange of goods and people between Dakar and Banjul in The Gambia. In addition, the natural regions of Casamance and Sine-Saloum (in which Foundiougne is located) will reap various benefits from this new bridge. These include increased economic, cultural, and touristic activities as well as improved access to education and health.
A step towards realizing the Emerging Senegal Plan
According to a document that Senegal’s government information office released to the press ahead of the inauguration ceremony, the construction of the Nelson Mandela Toll Bridge was carried out as part of the ambitious program President Macky Sall initiated for the modernization and development of infrastructures in the country. Infrastructure development and modernization is a key priority in the Emerging Senegal Plan as it is considered essential for the structural transformation of the Senegalese economy.
In addition to highlighting these positive economic and social implications of the new bridge for his country, President Macky Sall also expressed gratitude for China’s support in realizing this project.
China supports Senegal’s infrastructure development
Chinese Ambassador to Senegal Xiao Han, who was also present at the inauguration ceremony of the bridge, wrote in an opinion piece that “the magnificent Foundiougne Bridge is not only a steel bridge by our side but also a bridge of friendship in our hearts, which connects the Chinese and Senegalese peoples.”
The construction of the Nelson Mandela Toll Bridge started in February 2018. A total of US$ 77 million were injected into this project, which was jointly funded by the Government of Senegal and the People’s Republic of China through its Export-Import Bank. The construction work was carried out by the Chinese company China Henan International Cooperation Group.
Moreover, Senegal has launched several other infrastructural projects intending to help the country reach emergence by 2035. As Ambassador Xiao Han pointed out, several of these infrastructural projects have seen the participation of China in terms of financing, construction, maintenance, and co-management. A good example is the Ila Touba Toll Highway, which was financed by a Chinese loan and built by a Chinese company.kikk