The Economic Community for West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Development Bank (AfDB), have signed a $22.7 million agreement for a study into a 1,000 km highway that will link Abidjan to Lagos.
Nearly 40 million people are estimated to be living along the Abidja-Lagos corridor while 47 million people travel along the axis every year.
These are expected to be direct beneficiaries of the development of the project touted to be a real backbone of trade in the region.
Senior Communications Officer, Communication and External Relations Department of AfDB, Mr Chawki Chahed, made this known in a statement on Tuesday in Abuja, disclosed that the development would mark a new step in building regional integration and trade in the sub-region.
He explained that the proposed Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Highway, a six-lane and three-lane dual motorway, would connect the countries via Accra, Lome and Cotonou.
He said that the agreement was signed on Monday for a study on the technical, implementation and operational aspects of the project.
According to him, the agreement comes nearly five years after the presidents of Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, Benin and Nigeria, signed a treaty on the establishment of the highway, in March 2014.
The communications officer recalled that the President of the ECOWAS Commission Jean-Claude Brou and Vice-President of the ECOWAS Commission Finda Koroma, attended the ceremony, which took place in Abuja.
He said that Nigeria’s Minister of Power, Works and Housing; and Chairman of the Ministerial Steering Committee for the project, Mr Babatunde Fashola, and EU Head of Co-operation in Abuja Kurt Cornelis were also present.
Chahed disclosed that the bank had approved 12.6 million dollars to finance part of the study; and mobilised 9.1 million Euro grant from the EU Commission, bringing the total ﬁnancing for this important study, to 22.7 million dollars.
“By linking some of Africa’s largest and economically dynamic cities, the road will promote cross-border trade and integrate fast-growing economies within the ECOWAS.
“This is expected to contribute to reducing the poverty levels of the population that depends on inter regional trade for livelihood,’’ he said.
The official quoted the Senior Director of AfDB in Nigeria, Mr Ebrima Faal, as saying that the bank remained fully committed to the 2020 ECOWAS’ Vision.
“We will work closely with the public and private sectors to unlock new sources of growth for Africa, while reducing inequality between countries and within countries.
“Together, we can unlock the enormous potentials of the West African region and deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals for the region,” Faal said.