Hope Rises for ECOWAS Road Corridor

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Achi

Patrick Achi, Cote d’ Ivoirean minister of economic infrastructure is happy that donors have shown tremendous interest to fund the 1028 kilometre international highway linking Abidjan with Lagos in Nigeria

WEST Africa is optimistic about the prospect of securing requisite funding for its latest project linking some of its “vibrant and populated “cities through a 1028 kilometre highway project.  Patrick Achi, Cote d’Ivoire’s minister of economic infrastructure, said donors have shown tremendous interest to fund the project, dubbed the Abidjan-Lagos highway corridor. The road will link some major cities of Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria and Togo, the five countries involved in the project including their capitals. The corridor project is the first phase of the programme to link Lagos at one end of the community to Dakar at the other end along the coast.

Opening a meeting of legal and infrastructural experts of the five countries on Saturday, December 7, in Yamoussoukro, the country’s capital, Achi said the importance of the project to the region was aptly demonstrated by the determination of the leaders of the countries for its expedited realisation. He urged the experts, who are considering some of the basic documents of the project during the three-day meeting, to reflect this urgency by coming up with documents that would contribute to the effective discharge of the mandate by the leaders of the affected countries. “I trust that you have the requisite expertise and zeal to make proposals that will further the process for the realisation of the project,” the minister said.

Ebrima Njie
Njie

Ebrima Njie, ECOWAS commissioner for Infrastructure, had earlier described the meeting as “another opportunity for the hardworking family of experts and partners to advance the process in discharging the mandate of our leaders. It is yet another opportunity for this hardworking family of experts and partners to advance the realisation of the vision of our presidents and heads of State to transform the Abidjan-Lagos corridor into a modern, homogenous six lane highway that connects our vibrant cities and populations,” Njie said.

The experts will review the rules of procedure, which details out the institutional framework and modalities for implementing the project and forms an integral part of the already finalised treaty for the project, during the meeting which precedes the two day meeting of the steering committee.

The committee, which comprises the ministers of infrastructure, works and justice of the countries, will consider their recommendations. This third meeting of the Committee will also firm up the possible funding mechanisms for the project. The two previous meetings of the steering committee were held in Abuja and Accra.

In a related development, Five ECOWAS Member States involved in the Abidjan-Lagos road corridor project have agreed to contribute $50 million in “seed money” to ensure speedy implementation of the 1028-km project. The Steering Committee agreed at its third ministerial session in Yamoussoukro on December 10, that the money would help fund preparatory activities and provide further evidence of commitment by the countries for public and private sector operators interested in investing in the project, a six-lane highway expected to carry some 75 per cent of goods transported in the region, linking most of its major ports. The Committee, comprising ministers of the Road Infrastructure and Works of Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria and Togo, also mandated the ECOWAS Commission to engage with partners to submit proposals for transaction advisory services and the mobilization of external funding for the project.

Mike Onolememen
Onolememen

In addition, it mandated the commission to finalise a joint funding request for the five countries to the African Development Bank, AfDB, to be signed by their ministers of finance. The one-day meeting was convened to review the rules of procedure, which defines the institutional framework for the project, an integral part of its Treaty, particularly the options for funding to fast track the project, as well as the joint request to the AfDB and the signing of the Treaty. Speaking during the opening session, Achi praised the road infrastructure, works and legal experts for the diligent finalisation of the working documents during their three-day preceding meeting also held in Yamoussoukro. He highlighted the importance of the project, the first phase of the Lagos-Dakar highway project to link the eastern and western coastal extremes of the region, as a veritable road artery that would contribute to strengthening the implementation of the region’s integration programme. The minister pledged the commitment of his country to the realisation of the project, conscious of the determination of regional leaders for its success because of its importance to the economic wellbeing of the region.

Njie said the project’s realisation would facilitate intra-community movement of goods and persons, the bedrock of the region’s integration project. It would also contribute to stimulating the regional economy and help reduce impediments to intra-community movement of goods and persons through greater efficiency, he said. In his speech, Mike Onolememen, Nigeria’s minister of Works, who chairs the committee, stressed the need for the countries to continue to demonstrate cohesion so as to realise the resolve of their heads of state and government towards the project which has attracted remarkable donor interest.

The ministers of Benin, Ghana and Togo also addressed the meeting, renewing their countries’ commitment to the project. Previous meetings of the Committee were held in Abuja, Nigeria and Accra, Ghana with the fourth now scheduled to be held in Cotonou, Benin Republic.

— Dec. 23, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT

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