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.
Bollore planned to invest more than $200 million in the port concession, although two other sources say there are in discussions with partners to boost the total Gambian investment package to around $1 billion.
Yankuba Saidy, permanent secretary for investments at the president’s office, told Reuters that Gambia had received “lots” of offers for the port, including from Bollore, and that a partner had not yet been chosen.
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 Gambia Port Authority.
The 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.
Bollore’s subsidiary, Bollore Africa Logistics, operates container ports in more than a dozen African countries, including a roll-on, roll-off terminal in Dakar which, like Banjul, affords access to landlocked Mali and Burkina Faso.
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.
Bollore declined to give an official comment.