The partnership consists of Political and Enterprise Businessman, Samir El Mahallawy and Irish-American Producer-Businesswoman Shari O’Donnell.
Boasting an impressive enterprise, defense and infrastructure portfolio, El Mahallawy earned his reputation as a highly sought after diplomatic and enterprise strategist. Dublin born, O’Donnell started her career out as an Executive Assistant to African Ambassadors, CEO’s and Business Titans while producing creative content and brokering international business deals.
Mauritania, a country in northwest Africa will be one of the first benefactors of the duo’s efforts. ODEM are currently assembling 5 major consortiums for the region and that number is expected to increase. The current projects include a 2-lane highway and toll road to help the busiest and most dangerous route in the country, a sugar factory, oil depots and water port – helping the country to accommodate large ships to respond to major import and export needs which will enable the region to flourish in multiple industries: the fisheries sector, the mining sector and will dramatically help speed the import and implementation of renewable energies for the country, while providing the world with a new port stopover in such a critical geolocation point.
The most significant project they are currently assembling in Mauritania is a US$3.9 billion water project in the north of the country. Mauritania is 90% occupied by a desert – the project aims to meet the critical need for clean and safe drinking water in the region and to enable the mass production of mining resources in the area which represent an essential wealth for the country but require significant amounts of water to develop. Mauritania is a leading producer of copper, gold, silver, iron ore and titanium. The critical water needs of the mining industries will see the country largely benefit from economic spin offs such as the export of value-added products and mass job creation. The water supply will also help secure Nouakchott’s (the capital) food supply in the long term, improve the living conditions of the populations covered by the project and allow economic dynamism linked to the water supply.
PPP models have proved to be increasingly successful for both the public and private sector. The model allows for consortiums (mainly consisting of developers, consultants, and PPP lenders etc) to develop projects and recoup their investment along with profits for a fixed term – normally 30 years. In recent years a large number of successful PPP projects have been completed in Africa including a PPP project by one of Europe’s leading construction and toll road operating companies – the Eiffage Group. The Group completed Senegal’s Dakar-Diamniadio toll road. Other successful African PPP projects include the Henri Konan Bédié Bridge in Côte d’Ivoire, the Lake Turkana Wind Power Project in Kenya, power and water projects in Ghana, Nigeria and Rwanda and the Tanger-Med port project in Morocco.
El Mahallawy states, “We ‘separate the men from the boys’. We don’t accept an attitude of ‘unknowns’ – we use foresight, tactical think-outside-the-box-strategy, frightening reaction time, ‘fort knox’ vetting procedures and courageous alliance and we enjoy it.” O’Donnell adds, “what seems like the most boring aspect of our work is the difference between success and failure; building a PPP Consortium in a developing region is highly complex – We develop strategies involving ‘titanium recoupment clauses’ – that involves iron clad contracts and firm negotiations to ensure that trade is affected by the terms – a double entendre, per say. For example with the US$3.9 billion water project that the region is in desperate need of – its a ‘no brainer’ to strap on recoupment clauses factoring in all the mining products that will export the country (based on the water project enabling the industry) and that includes the sale of mined copper, iron ore and titanium from the region. We want consortium players who can envision what the future can look like for Africa because its going to take some real grit.”
Mauritania, under military control since 1978, is also rich in other natural resources such as uranium, diamonds, and oil. They also boast a booming fish and sugar market. Its population is 4.8 million, however its merely untapped terrain is over 1 million sq km (almost as big as Egypt).
O’Donnell said that she felt reassured that it was ODEM’s “destiny” to help develop Mauritania as the country has the same population as O’Donnell’s native country – Ireland, while its land mass is the same size as Egypt – El Mahallawy’s native country. She went on to say we both felt deeply connected and drawn to Mauritania and that lead to what turned out to be extremely successful talks for both ODEM and Mauritania.
ODEM are currently focused on developing Mauritania while also working on projects for the Government of Iraq and multiple private projects in MENA. They are currently facilitating and accepting interests and bids on each project and they can be contacted via their website.