Jul 11, 2017: Chinese and French companies are bidding to help Gambia build up its Atlantic port Banjul in a bid to be at par as its neighbouring Senegal's Dakar.

This move would be one of the first major structural changes in Gambia following the end of President Yahya Jammeh's more than 20-year rule in January.

According to state-owned China Communications Construction Company (CCCC), one of its subsidiaries made a bid for a 140 million euro ($159.91 million) contract Gambia has launched to redevelop the port.

France's Bollore Group has also submitted an offer to develop the port for hundreds of millions of dollars, sources told Reuters, and was part of a recent delegation of French investors to the country.

The port was run by a state agency during Jammeh's rule. It is considered to have strategic potential thanks to its easy access to Atlantic shipping lanes.

Abdoulie Tambedou, managing director of the Gambia Ports Authority said there had already been several offers.

"The Chinese are interested in investing in the infrastructure for an overall envelope of 140 million euros," he told news agency Reuters in an interview. "We hope to agree the financing in the next six months."

Chinese interest in the project follows China's resumption of diplomatic ties with former Taiwan ally Gambia last year under the "one China" policy, which states that self-ruled Taiwan is part of China. President Adama Barrow's new government reaffirmed that position in February.

China is also a major market for Gambia's exports, which globally are mainly peanuts, wood, cashews, fish and fruit. Upgrading the port will take 30-36 months to complete, Tambedou said.

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