Across the MSGBC region (Mauritania, Senegal, The Gambia, Guinea-Bissau and Guinea-Conakry), the intersection of the tourism and energy industries presents a unique opportunity for sustainable development.
The development of Senegal’s energy sector is breathing new life into the country’s tourism industry.
Through infrastructure and energy projects, the country is expediting the growth and redevelopment of potential tourism destinations. Such projects include the Sandiara Special Economic Zone (SEZ), which incorporates a gas-to-power and solar facility and is poised to power tourism hotspots along the country’s southern coast.
One such destination is Mbodiene, a fishing village in the Thies region situated just 20km from the SEZ. Pierre Diouf, CEO of LFR Energy, a prominent real estate and energy firm developing the gas-to-power facility in the SEZ, envisions the transformation of Mbodiene into a major tourist complex.
“The real estate project will consist of two 4- and 5-star hotels with 500 rooms, 200 villas, a shopping center and an amusement park. We are currently in the first phase of development,” explained Diouf, adding that, “Our objective is to contribute to the creation of a new economic hub in the Thies region and, of course, to develop tourism in Senegal.”
This represents just one example of the many potential tourism hotspots expected to benefit from energy advancements in Senegal. Currently, tourism represents the country’s second-largest foreign exchange earner and is a major driver of growth and infrastructure development. As the country’s electrification, industrialization and revenue generation expands on the back of first oil and gas production expected from the Sangomar and Greater Tortue Ahmeyim fields this year, the country’s tourism sector is set to witness unprecedented growth on the back of energy infrastructure integration.
While Senegal focuses on harnessing its energy sector to power real estate and tourism development, The Gambia takes an inverse approach. In this semi-enclave country bordered by Senegal, tourism plays a vital role in driving its economy. Accounting for 20% of the country’s GDP and employing 19% of its population, tourism is a significant contributor to The Gambia’s prosperity. The World Bank has recognized this and authorized a $68 million grant from the International Development Association (IDA) to support the diversification and climate resilience of the country’s tourism sector.
The country’s dedication to tourism-driven development may be seen in its efforts to build institutional and legislative frameworks, expand access to finance for tourism-related firms, develop remote areas, and promote coastal sustainability. In addition to economic benefits, the country’s tourism sector presents an opportunity for investment in energy.
The Gambia intends to support energy projects that would improve infrastructure and contribute to the country’s overall development by using tourism earnings. Currently, the country’s energy industry is experiencing considerable change, with initiatives to increase electricity delivery and the reform of the utility corporation NAWEC underway coupled with a growing focus on frontier oil exploration. As a relatively untapped energy market, The Gambia requires significant capital to develop energy infrastructure, explore untapped basins and create strong domestic energy value chains.
As such, its tourism industry can be leveraged to generate the revenue requires to stimulate energy advancements. Forthcoming events like Energy Capital & Power’s MSGBC Oil, Gas & Power 2023 conference, which will be hosted in Nouakchott on November 21–22, provide an excellent opportunity to encourage further investment in both the tourism and energy industries in Senegal and The Gambia.