With ambitions to become West Africa’s travel hub, the project has already had significant socio-economic impact.

Senegal’s new €525m International Blaise Diagne Airport (AIBD), co-financed with the African Development Bank (AfDB), opened on December 7th, PANA news service reported.

AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina said the airport would improve regional connectivity, drive down costs of transportation, and grow the economy. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) forecasts an average annual passenger increase of 5% over the next 20 years.

The aviation project has already had significant socio-economic impact in Senegal, creating 3,000 local construction jobs during the construction phase and 427 full-time jobs for the operational phase. Additional jobs are expected in engineering, maintenance, information technologies and security in the next few years.

Senegal faces a great deal of youth unemployment, forcing many of its citizens to risk their lives in attempts to cross the Mediterranean. The new international airport may help to address this issue, Gambian newspaper The Point comments.

The state-of-the-art facility will be a catalyst for the emergence of small and medium enterprises, attract regional and foreign investments and boost Senegal’s tourism potential.

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The airport is expected to see 3m passengers in its first year. Image: Africa Top Success

With a 42,000m2 passenger terminal and a 12,800m² cargo terminal building that is designed to handle 50,000 tons of cargo and 80,000 aircraft movements annually, the new airport resolves a lingering terminal capacity challenge; offers a long-term solution to intra-African economic activity; and resolves a perennial problem of low levels of aviation connectivity in West and Central Africa.

Located near the town of Diass, AIBD serves as a new airport for the capital,  Dakar, as the old Léopold Sédar Senghor International Airport became too small for future operations.

AIBD had faced more than 10 years of delays, and is meant to anchor Senegal’s economic and tech centre.

However, the airport has had mixed reviews with its location of more than 50km (31 miles) from 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 Lomé, Togo, which is the base of operations for ASKY Airlines, and Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire.

The airport, which is five times larger than the old one, is expected to see 3m passengers in its first year, according to the Associated Press. The government is aiming for 5m passengers in 2023 and 10m in 2035.

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.

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Find out more in the Africa Research Bulletin:

World Bank – Doing Business Report
Economic, Financial and Technical series
Vol. 54, Issue 10, pp. 21885A–21885B

Economic, Financial and Technical series
Vol. 54, Issue 10, pp. 21904A–21905A

Senegal – Dakar Train Project
Economic, Financial and Technical series
Vol. 54, Issue 6, p. 21761C

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