The African Development Bank (AfDB) said it was considering a US$16 million (N3.2 billion) support package to finance preparatory studies for sections of the Abidjan-Lagos road corridor.
The bank said in a statement, e-mailed from newsmen on Friday in Lagos, quoted Chris Appiah, a Transport and Policy expert at the Economic Community of West African State (ECOWAS) as saying.
According to the statement, the bank is showcasing the road corridor as model of infrastructure driven regional integration.
“It will ensure a more efficient border crossing system and facilitate regional integration,” Appiah said.
The statement noted that a key activity of the just concluded Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) Week organised by bank was a site visit to the Abidjan-Lagos corridor on Thursday.
The visit afforded the programme participants to meet face to face with the reality of integrating Africa through infrastructure.
“The 1,028-kilometre road, under construction, connects Abidjan, Accra, Cotonou, Lagos and Lome.
“The road is considered to be West Africa’s largest and most economically dynamic cities, with a combined population of more than 35 million people.
“The six-lane corridor also links vibrant sea ports, serving all the region’s landlocked countries, thus facilitating intra and inter regional trade,’’ the statement read in part.
A transport expert with the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Organisation (ALCO), Edy Anthony stressed the importance of the road to the region.
“The corridor is one of the most important developments in the region; it accounts for about 75 percent of trade in the ECOWAS region.
“When you connect one country with another; one region with another, you reduce transport and trade barriers, expanding business opportunities between countries.
“This leads to growth of local economies and the region’s at large, Anthony emphasised.
“The corridor is perceived as an instrument for driving the implementation of ECOWAS’s flagship protocol on free movement of people and goods,’’ Anthony was quoted as saying.
The presidents of the five countries – Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Benin, Nigeria and Togo – approved the facility, which is a pilot project under the PIDA Service Delivery Mechanism.
Efforts to establish the corridor were lauded by Silvester Kasuku, the Director-General of Kenya’s Lamu Port Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) Corridor Development Authority.
“You cannot go wrong with creating synergy to achieve bigger socio-economic change on the continent,’’ the statement quoted him as noting.
He liking the project to LAPSSET, which he said that when completed, would connect Kenya through Lamu Port to Southern Sudan and Ethiopia.
He added that LAPSSET would be the gateway to the East Africa sub region and Great Lakes region.
Kasuku also highlighted the need for collaboration between LAPSSET and the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor in order to link a greater part of the continent.
“We do recognise that Africa is in a global growth frontier.
“The more connected we are, the bigger the trade, the many markets we open, and the greater our economies will become,’’ he was further quoted.
PIDA is an initiative of the AfDB, New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), and New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD).
It aims at addressing the infrastructure deficit which has hampered Africa’s competitiveness on the global market.
The AfDB has, in the last decade invested more than US $30 billion in infrastructure, which accounts for over 50 per cent of its lending portfolio during the period.