- Seychelles is already deriving many benefits from the land it has reclaimed from the sea, and is studying the possibility of turning more shallow ocean area into more hectares of land, the country's Land Use and Habitat Minister Joel Morgan has said.
Many key facilities on the 115 island Indian Ocean archipelago - including the capital city, industrial area, roads, airport and housing estates - are on reclaimed land.
The last such project was completed in 2003 when Seychelles reclaimed 350 hectares of land at a cost of US$ 50 million. Minister Morgan last week said that this recovered land was now "directly responsible" for the economic turn-around that Seychelles is experiencing, with investors "flocking" to the country to build five-star hotels, according to the Seychellois government.
The Minister gave the example of Eden Island, which has been leased to international investors who are paying the government US$ 50 million lease for the island, and a fraction of their profits when they sell high class houses they are building and marketing to both locals and foreigners who wish to live on the up-market residential island.
"In view of the major economic benefits that Seychelles is getting from investments on reclaimed land, for example from Eden Island, the government is undertaking studies with a view to considering the reclamation of more land," a government release quoted Minister Morgan as saying.
"We have already come to the point where we are fast running out of available land for economic activities on our reclaimed land," he warned, indicating the decision to reclaim new land had already been taken.
"After the third project we are now looking at the fourth and we are exploring the possibility and carrying out the study in terms of economic benefits, the cost-benefit analysis, the available areas that would be used for reclamation, what their uses would be, for example for tourism, industrial, fisheries or port development, housing and the like, and depending on the findings of the study, the government will then decide as and when to undertake a new reclamation project," Minister Morgan said.
He added that besides the "asset of peace" that Seychelles has, which attracts investors, these would not consider projects here if the land and necessary facilities like water and electricity did not exist.
Seychelles - one of Africa's richest countries in GDP per capita - has struggled with an economic recession for several years, due to high price levels and a slow growth in tourist arrivals. The Victoria government has looked into several strategies to turn this trend, including fisheries and expensive tourism marketing campaigns.
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