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Abidjan-Lagos highway project will be a game-changer for ECOWAS trade

THE construction of the  1,081-kilometre Abidjan-Lagos highway will have a significant impact on the economies of five West African countries – Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, Benin and Nigeria. Valued at $15.6bn and led by the Economic Commission of West African States (ECOWAS), this transformative public-private partnership project was the largest investment opportunity showcased at the Africa Investment Forum virtual boardrooms held from March 15 to 17  2022.

Akinwumi A. Adesina, President of the African Development Bank Group, says the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Highway project is the most important infrastructure project in West Africa, adding that it will facilitate free movement and trade in the region.

The new highway will start at Bingerville, in the eastern suburbs of Abidjan, and terminate at Mile 2 (Eric Moore) in Lagos. Three sections are planned for the construction of this dual three-lane highway: Abidjan (Côte d’Ivoire) – Takoradi (Ghana), 295 km;; Takoradi (Ghana) – Akanu (Ghana), 466 km; and Noepe (Togo)- Cotonou (Benin)- Lagos (Nigeria), 320 km. Eight border posts will also be built along the corridor.

The Abidjan-Lagos highway has already attracted the interest of the African Development Bank, which has provided €22.4 million in funding to finance preparatory studies for the implementation and management of the corridor project.

The Abidjan-Lagos highway forms part of the Dakar-Abidjan-Lagos cross-border coastline. It will therefore have a direct impact on 14 of the 16 West African countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo).

The strategic importance of the regional infrastructure project is hard to overstate. The Abidjan-Lagos axis covers nearly 75 percent of West Africa’s commercial activities. The transport sector accounts for 5 percent to 8 percent of the region’s gross domestic product and plays a key role in economic development and job creation, particularly for women and young people.

The Abidjan-Lagos highway is also one of 16 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 project is also a priority within the framework of the new ECOWAS Vision 2050 which, among other objectives, aims to ‘make ECOWAS a fully integrated and interconnected economic region.’

Further, the Abidjan-Lagos highway will complete the Enugu-Bamenda corridor,  linking southeast Nigeria in West Africa to southwest Cameroon in Central Africa. The 443-kilometer highway, costing about $430 million, is being financed by the African Development Bank and the project is currently being finalised.

This integrating corridor will link the most economically dynamic cities and ports and the most densely populated agglomerations in West Africa (Lagos, Abidjan, Accra, Cotonou and Lomé). It will also increase trade and integration in West Africa, notably by providing maritime port access to landlocked countries (Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Chad) through its connection with other corridors along the North-South axis.

The Abidjan-Lagos highway will boost transport (roads, railroads, ports and airports) in West Africa and help accelerate the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area, a market of 1.3 billion consumers and a combined GDP of about $3 trillion.

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