ABUJA, Nigeria, December 12, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ – Five ECOWAS Member States involved in the Abidjan-Lagos road corridor project have agreed to contribute US$50 million in “seed money” to ensure speedy implementation of the 1028-km project.
The Steering Committee agreed at its third ministerial session in Yamoussoukro on 10th December 2013, that the money would help fund preparatory activities and provide further evidence of commitment by the countries for public and private sector operators interested in investing in the project, a six-lane highway expected to carry some 75 per cent of goods transported in the region, linking most of its major ports.
The Committee, comprising Ministers of the Road Infrastructure and Works of Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria and Togo, also mandated the ECOWAS Commission to engage with partners to submit proposals for transaction advisory services and the mobilization of external funding for the project.
In addition, it mandated the Commission to finalise a joint funding request for the five countries to the African Development Bank (AfDB) to be signed by their Ministers of finance.
The one-day meeting was convened to review the rules of procedure, which defines the institutional framework for the project, an integral part of its Treaty, particularly the options for funding to fast track the project, as well as the joint request to the AfDB and the signing of the Treaty.
Speaking during the opening session, Cote d’Ivoire’s Minister of Economic
Infrastructure, Mr Patrick Achi praised the road infrastructure, works and legal experts for the diligent finalisation of the working documents during their three-day preceding meeting also held in Yamoussoukro.
He highlighted the importance of the project, the first phase of the Lagos-Dakar highway project to link the eastern and western coastal extremes of the region, as a veritable road artery that would contribute to strengthening the implementation of the region’s integration programme.
The minister pledged the commitment of the country to the realisation of the project, conscious of the determination of regional leaders for its success because of its importance to the economic wellbeing of the region.
In the same vein, the ECOWAS Commissioner for Infrastructure, Mr Ebrima Njie said the project’s realisation would facilitate intra-community movement of goods and persons, the bedrock of the region’s integration project. It would also contribute to stimulating the regional economy and help reduce impediments to intra-community movement of goods and persons through greater efficiency, he affirmed.
In his speech, Nigeria’s Minister of Works, Architect Mike Onolememen, who chairs the Committee, stressed the need for the countries to continue to demonstrate cohesion so as to realise the resolve of their Heads of State and Government towards the project which has attracted remarkable donor interest.
The ministers of Benin, Ghana and Togo also addressed the meeting, renewing their countries’ commitment to the project.
Previous meetings of the Committee were held in Abuja, Nigeria and Accra, Ghana with the fourth now scheduled to be held in Cotonou, Benin Republic.
A minute’s silence was observed at the meeting’s opening ceremony in honour of South Africa’s first black President, Dr. Nelson Mandela, who died last week.