Being nation of 115 small islands clearly has its advantages, including distinct and unique ecosystems, as well as vast stretches of coastline and ocean resources. But it also presents challenges, especially in terms of land and infrastructure. That’s why Seychelles is coming up with innovative solutions to maximize its use of the space available, while also respecting the environment and anticipating climate change
Developing strategically and smartly is the way forward for Seychelles. Key among strategic infrastructure expansion is the planned development of Port Victoria and a series of tunnels on Mahé to prevent increased trade leading to greater traffic congestion. Smart is using those same tunnels to improve Seychellois’ utility services and also using the earth for a new dam project, while improving building standards to account for the possibility of cyclones in a less stable climatic environment.
“We need to find ways to get utilities like telephone cables, electricity, water and sewage from one region to another, so the tunnels would add value in that sense too. Not only will they shorten travel times, they will add to the overall sustainability of development and reduce operating costs of businesses on the island,” explains Pamela Charlette, minister of habitat, lands, infrastructure and land transport.
The $41-million expansion plan for Port Victoria, Seychelles’ main harbour, is at the center of the vision for the islands. With an international tender for the project’s design due to be held this year, phase one will see the construction of a 600-meter-long quay, and phase two the dredging of the approach channel and the turning basin to minus 15 meters. An artificial island will be created for additional container space as Port Victoria looks beyond merely meeting local requirements and becoming an international transhipment center.
“Once we can receive larger vessels with a bigger draft, we will have a new advantage and change the pattern of ships’ movements in the area,” says Col. Andre Ciseau, CEO of Seychelles Port Authority.
According to Seychelles’ minister of tourism, civil aviation, ports & marine, Didier Dogley, the nation’s other main gateway, the international airport on Mahé, will also soon be dwarfed by demand. “We will have to probably build a completely new airport.”
China, already responsible for major projects on the islands, is set to be a key partner in Seychelles’ infrastructure growth. In his message of congratulation to Xi Jinping on being reappointed as China’s president in March, President Danny Faure said the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative reflected Beijing’s determined willingness to play a more important role to improve the infrastructure for facilitation of world trade and integration.”