- The Abidjan-Lagos transport corridor, connecting the Ivorian capital with Ghana, Togo, Benin and Nigeria along the densely populated coast, is to be overhauled to lower transportation time and costs. Also border posts are to become more effective.
The grand scheme to overhaul the 998.8 kilometres West African coastal corridor yesterday was granted necessary funding to get implemented. The World Bank announced it had approved US$ 258 million for the first phase of the rehabilitation programme.
The project is to help overhaul the main transport artery stretching along the West Africa coast from Abidjan to Lagos, and the customs and immigration posts and systems located on it. This regional operation aims at helping "improve the movement of people and facilitate trade between the five countries served by corridor," being Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, Benin and Nigeria.
The coastal highway links some of the largest and economically most dynamic capitals in Africa - Abidjan, Accra, Lomé, Cotonou and Lagos - and serves a population of over 35 million people. Several segments of the corridor account for the highest traffic in West and Central Africa, with up to 10,000 people and several thousand vehicles crossing borders each day.
"The potential of the corridor to become a catalyst for economic growth and regional integration in the sub-region is well documented, according to the World Bank, "and it is the hope and aspiration of the governments of the five countries, with assistance from the World Bank, to harnesses this potential for socio-economic development."
The objective of the rehabilitation is to reduce trade and transport barriers in the ports and on the roads along the Abidjan-Lagos highway. The programme is set to be executed in two phases:. The first phase, for an estimated cost of US$ 258 million, covers Ghana, Togo and Benin. Later, the second phase, for an estimated cost of US$ 89.5 million, covers the end point of Côte d'Ivoire and Nigeria.
"The project will help put in place more efficient trade and transport systems and enforce regional harmonised regulations in the sub-region," according to Wold Bank project leader Anca Dumitrescu. To that end, a set of customs and border procedural reforms would be implemented along this coastal corridor. "The results will be measured and monitored closely to ensure that some of the main barriers hindering true and meaningful regional integration are minimised," she added.
"If successful, the results can be scaled up at national and regional levels by member countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). This 'corridor approach' is proposed in recognition of the challenges pertaining to enforcement of ECOWAS rules and regulations," noted Richard Scobey of the agency Africa Regional Integration.
Improvement of corridor efficiency is also hoped to impact exports as well as imports in the region. "Increased import volumes would benefit local consumers - including local companies relying on foreign inputs - by increasing their consumer surplus," the project leadership hopes. "Increased export volume would benefit local producers by opening market opportunities."
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