Alex Enumah in Abuja
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on Monday signed a grant Retrocession Agreement with the African Development Bank (AfDB) on the Lagos-Abidjan Highway Development Programme.
The project put at a cost of $22.7 million with a two-year life span is meant to provide feasibility, environmental Impact assessment and detailed engineering design studies for the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Highway Development Project.
The signing of the agreement at the headquarters of the ECOWAS Commission in Abuja was to activate the grant contribution from the European Union (EU) for the project, which was described by the ECOWAS President, Jean-Claude Brou, as a huge milestone in the pursuit of development in the region.
He said: “As you may be aware, the signing of the Grant Retrocession Agreement is in line with the requirement for disbursement of Grant funds from the European Union from its African Investment Facility (AfIF) for the Abudjan-Lagos Corridor Highway Development Project.
“The EU contribution of €9.13 million was mobilised through the African Development Bank who also contributed approximately $11.06 million (Grants and Loans) from the African Development Fund making it a total of $22.72 million for the project,” he said.
The Abidjan-Lagos Corridor is approximately 1,090 kilometers long, and connects some of the largest and economically dynamic cities in Africa. It also links very vibrant seaports which serve the landlocked countries of the region such as Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger.
Senior Director, AfDB, Ebrima Faal, in a remark said Africa needs larger and deeper market integration to justify and promote industrialisation for its economic development.
“In West Africa, intra-regional trade of just around 11 per cent does not reflect the immense potential for the region. Boosting regional trade will require far greater investment in cross border infrastructure; especially transport links, power and transmission, and ICT,” he said.
According to him, the objective of the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Highway study was to undertake all the needed technical studies for the implementation, operations, and economic development of a six-lane (three-lane dual) highway corridor.
Commenting, the EU representative, Kurt Cornelis, said the project fits perfectly in the framework that the EU desires to implement in the region.
While noting that the stakes for the region are high, Cornelis said the highway corridor when completed would bring about not only increase in the volume of trade, but also in job creation.
He said that was the reason the EU chose to contribute nearly 45 per cent of the budget of the preparatory project in the form of a donation.
“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,” he said.