ECOWAS estimates Lagos-Abidjan highway to cost $2b

The ECOWAS Commission has said that the Lagos-Abidjan highway development project is estimated to cost $2 billion (about N328 billion).
The Commissioner for Infrastructure at the commission, Ebima Njie, said all ECOWAS member states and development partners would be involved in the funding of the project.
Njie made the disclosures in Abuja in an interview with newsmen on the sideline of a meeting of experts and development partners for the Lagos-Abidjan Corridor Highway Development Project.
The commissioner added that the experts’ meeting would focus on three core areas for the funding and realisation of the project.
He said: “We are now focusing on three areas: the legal framework, which is going to govern the movement of people and goods within the corridor.
“The technical terms of reference of the designs and the management, which is going to govern the highway and the financial mechanism, which is one of the most important things in order to get the dream realised.
“ECOWAS and the development partners are our key stakeholders.
Seventy-five per cent of our trade movement relies on this corridor.
“We are going to put up a funding mechanism, a pool of funds whereby it could be a mixture of funding.
“We’ll take loans and grants in order to make sure this is realised.
“Until the design has been done properly, we cannot come up with a tangible figure but cost estimates.
“We are looking at $1 billion to $2 billion, within that bracket in order to fund this project.
“The improvement and livelihood of our member states cannot be over-emphasised.
“The free movement within ECOWAS is there but this is another level whereby we can bring income generation within our member states.”
Earlier in his address, Njie said that the three areas of focus were part of issues raised by the Heads of State and Governments on the margins of the Summit of the 50th Anniversary of African Union in May.
He urged experts at the meeting to focus on the issues and evolve recommendations accordingly.
Also speaking, Mike Onolememem, Nigeria’s Minister of Works, said that the project would facilitate free movement across borders in the West African sub-region.
Onolememem was represented by Umunna Ekenna, Deputy Director, (Highways) Planning.
The minister said it was imperative that the project was actualised within the shortest possible time “to promote the economic growth of the West African sub-region”.
He said: “I have witnessed that regions around the world are pulling resources together towards creating opportunities to maximise the areas of strength for individual states within their regions.
“This is aimed at promoting division of labour in the production of goods and services, which will improve service delivery by reducing cost of commodities due to competition and access to a wider market.
“Consequently, it is fundamental for us to actualise this project within the shortest possible time to pave the way to our economic prosperity, which is long overdue, bearing in mind the abundant natural and human resources within our region.”
The minister also spoke of the regional bloc’s commitment to begin the construction of the Lagos-Abidjan corridor in 2014.
Also in an interview with newsmen, Lovemore Bingandadi, a representative of the South African Development Community Secretariat, expressed the readiness of the SADC to share its experiences with ECOWAS.
Bingandadi, the Programme Manager, Transport and Corridors of the Infrastructure and Services Directorate, SADC Secretariat, emphasised the need for all stakeholders to cooperate towards the realisation of the project.
He also outlined the benefits of promoting free movement through the project.
He said: “First of all is to recognise the importance of road infrastructure to promoting regional integration and cross-border trade in our regions mainly because of the long distances that we have between our landlocked countries and ports and markets.
“Our experience in Southern Africa tells us that you need to cooperate among and as a group of nations to design, develop, build and operate such cross-border infrastructure.
“Cooperation involves a multiplicity of stakeholders.
“You need the political leaders because you need the political will for them to marshal the resources of their countries.
“Everyone must participate.
“That way you will ensure success.
“The benefits are immense.
“Most of our economies are constrained by a lack of access to markets.
“Our transportation costs and terms are very high because of poor infrastructure and the lack of harmonised transport laws, regulations and standards.
“The infrastructure that is planned for this region will address all of these concerns and in addition there is the added benefit that you now bring marginalised areas of our economies into the mainstream economy.”
The ECOWAS ministers meeting on the Lagos-Abidjan highway project in April agreed the project would be completed in 24 months.
The experts’ meeting would be followed by the meeting of ministers of road infrastructure, finance and justice from Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire on Monday.