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Home » Africa Investment Forum 2023: West Africa Aims to Accelerate the Construction of the Abidjan to Lagos Highway

Africa Investment Forum 2023: West Africa Aims to Accelerate the Construction of the Abidjan to Lagos Highway

by Deon Nielsen
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Heads of State in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have decided to speed up the construction of the highway between Abidjan and Lagos, a project for which the African Development Bank is playing a leading role in mobilizing funding.

The Bank has already contributed USD 25 million to fund the preparatory phase of the project. Moreover, along with its partners, it mobilized USD 15.6 billion during the Africa Investment Forum (AIF) in 2022.  The highway will link the most economically dynamic cities and ports and the most densely populated urban areas in West Africa.

Meeting on 9 July 2023, alongside an ECOWAS summit in Bissau, Guinea-Bissau’s capital, 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 accelerate the completion of the detailed design study and the financial and implementation strategy and to produce the tender documentation to launch the construction phase” of the highway. 

They also instructed 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”. 

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. 

In response, an initial round table of development finance institutions was organized with the ECOWAS Commission on 26 September 2023, at the headquarters of the African Development Bank in Abidjan.

The primary aim of the round table was to provide the main regional and international development finance institutions with the latest information on this major regional project. 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. Meanwhile, efforts are underway to finalize the project’s technical studies in October 2023. 

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 USD 142.6 billion of investment commitments in Africa. 

The round table was a success, with 180 participants representing over 30 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 MIGA (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 next step will be to mobilize private investors and donors through market research sessions, once the technical design studies are complete,” commented Mike Salawou, Director of the Infrastructure and Urban Development Department at the African Development Bank. 

The Abidjan-Lagos highway project envisions a 1,081 kilometre highway linking five countries in West Africa – Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, Benin and Nigeria. 

It 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 (PIDA), which is being implemented by the African Development Bank. 

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. 

Source : AFDB

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