- The 1,028km highway will connect economic capitals of five West African countries, part of Ecowas economic block.
- Estimates show the project will cost $15.1 billion and is part of the Trans-African Highway Network.
- ECOWAS Heads of State want to speed up the construction of the highway..
The African Development Bank and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Heads of State now want to speed up the construction of the highway between Abidjan and Lagos.
This was realized after the 1st round table of development partners and major regional and international DFIs on the financing of the Construction of the Abidjan–Lagos Corridor Highway, in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.
The round table aimed at providing the main regional and international development finance institutions with the latest information on this major regional project.
Abidjan-Lagos road design
The meeting also served as an awareness-raising platform and “soft market test” for the project, to confirm the interest expressed by investors during AIF 2022 and take their recommendations and requirements into account.
“The next step will be to mobilize private investors and donors through market research sessions, once the technical design studies are complete,” Director of the Infrastructure and Urban Development Department at the AfDB Mike Salawou said.
Meanwhile, efforts are underway to finalize the project’s technical studies in October 2023. The ECOWAS Heads of State now want the completion of the detailed design study and the financial and implementation strategy to be accelerated to give way for the production of the tender documentation to launch the construction phase
The leaders of Benin (Patrice Talon), Côte d’Ivoire (Alassane Ouattara), Ghana (Nana Akufo-Addo), Nigeria (Bola Tinubu) and Togo (Faure Essozimna Gnassingbé) – the countries the highway will cross – urged the ECOWAS Commission “to cooperate with the ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development (EBID) and the African Development Bank, along with other development partners and the private sector, to make sustained efforts to mobilize resources to fund the investment required to build the highway.”
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Financing the mega project
The 1,028 km supranational highway will connect the economic capitals of five West African countries, namely Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, Benin and Nigeria.
This will form an integral part of the Trans-African Highway Network that commences from Praia in Cabo Verde through Dakar, Abidjan, Lagos which connects Central and East Africa to end at Mombasa in Kenya.
The project preliminary estimated at $15.1 billion, lies at the heart of the ECOWAS Vision 2050 and the 4×4 strategic objectives of the ECOWAS Commission Management.
AfDB which is playing the leading role in mobilizing funding has already contributed $25 million to fund the preparatory phase of the project.
Additionally, along with its partners, it mobilized USD 15.6 billion during the Africa Investment Forum (AIF) back in 2022.
The AIF is a transactional, multi-party, multidisciplinary platform designed by the African Development Bank and seven partners to raise capital for large-scale investments in Africa. Since its creation in 2018, the Forum has attracted $142.6 billion of investment commitments in Africa.
Importance of the Abidjan-Lagos corridor
This infrastructure is more than essential for the socio-economic development of West Africa, because it connects the most densely populated and economically active parts of the sub-region.
The superhighway also has interconnections with a railways network and the main ports and airports in its coverage area.
The new corridor will link major ports and West Africa’s key urban areas of Lagos, Abidjan, Accra, Cotonou and Lomé.
It will also help to boost trade and integration in West Africa, in particular by offering maritime port access to landlocked countries (Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Chad) by linking to other corridors along the north-south axis.
The highway will dynamize the transport network (roads, railways, ports and airports) in West Africa and supplement the Enugu-Bamenda corridor, which links south-eastern Nigeria in West Africa to south-western Cameroon in Central Africa.
This will significantly speed up the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
The highway will start in Bingerville, in the eastern suburbs of Abidjan, and end at Mile 2 (Eric Moore) in Lagos.
The route between Abidjan and Lagos is home to 75 percent of commercial activities in West Africa.
The transport sector represents 5 to 8 percent of the region’s gross domestic product and plays an essential role in economic development and job creation, especially for women and young people.
Abidjan-Lagos project was conceptualized to have a rail line along the corridor to facilitate movement of goods and services. It was approved in 2016 and is expected to be completed in December 2024. However, delays mostly related to funding have stalled its progress and a new completion date will be set.
Interested local and international parties
In a mark of their commitment to pressing ahead with the project, the leaders decided to set up the headquarters of the Abidjan-Lagos Committee Management Authority (ALCoMA) in Côte d’Ivoire.
Made up of representatives from ECOWAS and the countries that will benefit from the highway, the ALCoMA is tasked with managing the project.
The recently concluded round table was a success, with 180 participants representing over 30 donors.
Some of these donors including the EBID, the European Union, British International Investment (BII), the Belgian Development Agency (Enabel), the French Development Agency (AFD), the European Investment Bank (EIB), Africa 50, the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), the World Bank, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), USAID, the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), Afreximbank, Belgian Investment Company for Developing Countries (BIO), the US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), the German, Canadian, Korean and Spanish cooperation agencies, among others.
Institutions such as the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency, a subsidiary of the World Bank Group, African Trade & Investment Development Insurance (ATIDI), TradeMark Africa and the Global Infrastructure Hub (GI Hub) were also represented at the round table.
The investment was one of the ECOWAS priorities set out in its “Vision 2050”. It is also one of the projects included in the Priority Action Plan of the African Union’s Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa, which is being implemented by the African Development Bank.