The many islands forming the Seychelles cover 1,200km of the Indian Ocean. While this small country does benefit from some economic vitality - with a GDP per capita of $15,000 in 2016 - its economy remains fragile. The majority of raw materials need to be imported and a sudden climate shock could have serious consequences. The Seychelles are part of the Small Island Developing States (SIDS), which are characterized by their geographical isolation.
Located on the main island of Mahé, which is home to the majority of the islands' 97,000 inhabitants, the Port of Victoria is crucial to the country's economy and to the whole life of the archipelago: tourists, citizens and goods alike pass through it every day. It is the point of entry for 95% of the country's imports.
Its main and only thoroughfare, a 370m long wharf, has seen the comings and goings of fishing boats, cruise liners and container ships. However, studies conducted in the Seychelles predict a 250% increase in transit freight by 2040. The port, which was built in 1972, is in great need of renovation.
Extending the port's lifespan by 50 years
The renovation and extension project, led by Victoria's port authority, will go on until 2021. First of all, the wharfs will be extended by 230m and will mainly be used for commercial storage. Then, the existing 370m will be renovated, that is, partially demolished and rebuilt. Ultimately, the capital will have a more efficient and resilient 600m of port for the next fifty years. The water around the port will also be dredged to allow larger freight or cruise ships to call in.
Via a loan of €16.5m, AFD, alongside the European Investment Bank (EIB), which itself is providing a grant of €12m as well as a European subsidy of €5.15m, is the main donor to the project, which has a total cost of €36.65m. The loan agreement was signed on April 26th 2018 in the presence of the President of the Seychelles, Danny Faure, the director of the Mauritius AFD agency, Matthieu Discour and the French Ambassador to the Seychelles, Lionel Majesté-Larrouy.
AFD's support, via the Mauritius agency, responds to the need to reinforce and safeguard the economic hub of the Seychelles. It is also a symbolic project which bears witness to the momentum gained in terms of regional cooperation in the Indian Ocean, with countries facing the same economic and environmental challenges such as geographical isolation and rising sea levels.