DUBAI port operator DP World has announced that construction on its Port de Futur will begin in Senegal by the end of 2018.
The project is intended to provide the country with a state-of-the-art integrated port, logistics hub and special economic zone, reports London's Global Construction Review.
It has also announced plans to develop the economy of Mali, the desert state to the east of Senegal. The decisions were taken following meeting between Ahmed Bin Sulayem, the chairman of the Dubai-based company, and President Macky Sall of Senegal and President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita of Mali.
DP World took over Dakar Port, with Senegal's only deepwater harbour and container terminal, in 2007. However, Dakar Port is located at the end of a peninsula, and so has nowhere to grow.
DP World's intends to build a terminal with an annual capacity of one million TEU at Bargny, on the south-eastern outskirts of Dakar, as well as a 6.5 square kilometres, US$800 million logistics hub and freetrade zone.
The zone will also be close to Blaise Diagne airport, which is still under construction, and connected to Dakar by a new rail link.
Altogether, the port schemes will have a capital cost of around $1.3 billion.
Port de Futur is competing with a number of other west African port projects for access to a hinterland of around 200 million people in 16 countries.
Mr Bin Sulayem told the press that Port de Futur and its associated developments would be "one of the most advanced and well organised free zones in Africa and globally, using the latest state-of-the-art equipment and technology".
"The size of the region and its population reinforces the need for multi-modal transport, logistics and customs capabilities across borders, and as our business moves the world across 40 countries we have the know-how to help in that mission."
DP World is negotiating land allocations for the free-trade zone, and has promised to reveal its master plan for the redevelopment of the existing port in the coming months.
The chairman also visited Mali in his tour of west and north Africa. His company is hoping to put in place a programme of works to enable Mali to make use of Port de Futur. The plan includes a transportation and logistics strategy with the same electronic customs processes DP World developed for the port of Jebel Ali in Dubai.
He said: "Mali has a long history of trade in gold and agricultural products and though landlocked, has the opportunity to maximise use of its 1,800 kilometres of inland waterways such as the Niger River to connect local farmers and businesses to international markets.
"Our flagship Jebel Ali model in Dubai, connecting port, free-trade zone, customs processes and logistics supported by advanced digital systems and technologies, is a shining example that countries in Africa such as Mali can benefit from. President Keita welcomed our proposals and we look forward to building on our relationship further."