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Why the EU is co-funding the Abidjan-Lagos Highway Corridor
The ECOWAS Commission and the African Development Bank (AfDB) have signed a retrocession agreement for the 1,080km Abidjan-Lagos Highway project in Abuja. Alongside the agreement, contracts were also signed to cover three aspects of the feasibility - socio-economic, environmental impact assessment and detailed engineering design studies for the highway. The project aims to, among others, facilitate greater trade, enhance economic integration and boost prosperity of the region.
The proposed Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Highway, a six-lane motorway, will connect some of the largest and most economically dynamic cities in Africa, (Abidjan, Accra, Cotonou, Lomé and Lagos) while covering a large proportion of West Africa’s population. It will also link very vibrant seaports in West Africa to all the landlocked countries of the region, namely Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger.
The recently-signed agreement for a study on the technical, implementation and operational aspects of the project comes nearly five years after the Presidents of Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigerian and Togo signed a treaty on the establishment of the highway in March 2014.
The EU is contributing $10.38m while the AfDB has approved a US$12.6m financing package, bringing the total ﬁnancing for the feasibility studies to US$22.7m.
At the ceremony, the Head of Co-operation of EU Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Mr. Kurt Cornelis, said the project perfectly fits into the framework of the cooperation between the EU and the African continent, particularly the West Africa region. This cooperation, according to him, aims to strengthen the competitiveness of the territories, stimulate investments and encourage regional integration for growth and job creation.
"The stakes for the region are high, as this corridor links five West African countries, connecting the main ports of the region and two railway lines, as well as several North-South corridors, as well as serving directly four further countries in the hinterland," he said.
The construction of a motorway and the establishment of a management system facilitating the borders will contribute to an increase in trade volumes in the axis, which already account for 75% of the commercial activity of the region, Mr. Cornelis stated. He added that access to efficient infrastructure and effective measures to facilitate transport will encourage the arrival of investors to finance and develop the creation of industrial clusters.
Noting that the development of trade and industrial production will directly benefit the local population, estimated at around 40m people along the corridor, Mr. Cornelis said that informed the decision of the EU to contribute nearly 45% of the budget of this preparatory project in the form of a donation.
According to him, the EU's commitment to strengthening regional integration, stimulating investment, strengthening the business framework to develop the economy and employment, is also expressed in the West African region in the form of other highway corridors, some of which are also co-financed by AfDB, namely: Mauritania and Senegal (Ponte Rosso Bridge); Guinea Bissau and Guinea (Route Québo-Boké); Guinea and Sierra Leone (Coya- Farmoreah); Benin and Togo (phase 2 of rehabilitation project of the Cotonou-Lomé road); and Côte d'Ivoire and Mali (Bamako-San Pedro), among others.
"These projects are complemented by institutional strengthening actions, also aimed at supporting ECOWAS and its' Member States in facilitating trade and improving the competitiveness of the region," he said.
The President of the ECOWAS Commission, Jean-Claude Brou, disclosed that the ECOWAS regional strategic framework has prioritized the development of key regional infrastructure to foster a competitive business environment while increasing inter-regional trade.