AfDB, ECOWAS, Sign Agreement for Study on Abidjan-Lagos Highway

Bennett Oghifo

The African Development Bank and the Economic Community of West African States Commission (ECOWAS) have signed an agreement for a study into a 1,000 kilometre highway linking Cote d’Ivoire’s commercial capital Abidjan, to Lagos in Nigeria, marking a new step in building regional integration and trade.

The proposed Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Highway, a six-lane (3-lane dual) motorway, will connect the countries via Ghana (Accra), Togo (Lomé) and Benin (Cotonou).The agreement signed Monday for a study on the technical, implementation and operational aspects of the project, 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.

Jean Claude Brou, President of the ECOWAS Commission, Vice President of the ECOWAS Commission Finda Koroma, the Nigerian Ministry of Power, Works and Housing and Chairman of the Ministerial Steering Committee for the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Highway Development Program, Babatunde Raji Fashola, attended the ceremony, which took place in Abuja, Nigeria. European Union (EU) Head of Co-operation in Abuja Kurt Cornelis, together with other relevant stakeholders, were also present at the event.

The Bank has approved a financing package of US$12.6 million to finance part of the study for project and mobilized a Euro 9.1 million grant from the EU Commission, bringing the total financing for this important study, to US$22.7 million.

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.

Ebrima Faal, Senior Director of the Bank’s Nigeria office noted that “the Bank remains 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.

Meanwhile, in partnership with the African Development Bank, Korea is ready to step up technology transfers to Africa, officials said in Seoul recently.

Speaking at a meeting on potential technology partnerships between Korea and Africa, representatives of Busan Metropolitan City, Busan Techno Park, and Korea’s Green Technology Center said there was huge potential for cooperation and immense opportunities for job-creating bankable projects.

The range of business options includes agriculture, green growth, smart urban transportation management, and numerous business opportunities.

President of the African Development Bank, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina said, “The Future is going to be an exponentially different future,” and that the Bank intends to “explore the creation of a strategic partnership with Korea that could lead to the creation of a Korea-Africa research and training Drone Center, that could help pave the way for Africa’s 4th Industrial Revolution.”

According to Hyung-Ju Kim, Director, Global Strategy Division, Green Technology Center, “Korean expertise can provide a practical and pragmatic solution to a wide range of Africa’s most pressing technology needs: The African Development Bank could play a major role here: if we bring technology to the table, the Bank can identify and facilitate bankable projects that can boost technology cooperation between Africa and Korea.”

With funding from the Korea-Africa Cooperation (KOAFEC) fund, the African Development Bank, in cooperation with Busan Metropolitan City, and the Busan Techno Park, has launched, a pilot project in Tunisia using drone technology to develop agriculture, including data collection and analysis, monitoring irrigated perimeters, aquifers, the effects of climate change, land degradation, biodiversity, filling and siltation of dams, and overall agricultural production.

Korea and the African Development Bank intend to extend the program to other countries and regions in Tunisia and Africa, and explore the massive market potential of industrial zones in other sectors.

Adesina says, “We are determined to expand the use of drones in agriculture in Africa. What we do in Africa today, will determine global food security tomorrow.”

For the President of the African Development Bank, it is important that the technological partnership with Korea translates into capacity building on the ground, through training, so that Africa can industrialise, build or assemble drones.

Busan City’s dominance as a Smart City on the cutting of artificial intelligence is thanks in part to political vision, one of the largest research and development expenditures in the world, and a team of 12,000 researchers and scientists.

Speaking afterwards to the African diplomatic corps in Seoul, Adesina identified three main obstacles to private sector development —access to finance, energy and stability. The Bank has invested $1 billion in AfreximBank, including $ 650 million in trade finance lines of credit and $ 350 million in trade insurance. The Bank has also invested $ 630 million in First Rand Bank and AbSA in South Africa to support expanded access to trade finance for 20 countries.

This financing effort includes small and medium-sized enterprises, which represent more than 80% of businesses in Africa. In this respect, he cited the Asian example, where large companies relied on value chains dominated by SMEs including suppliers and subcontractors. The Bank’s strategy is to develop large companies while connecting them to SMEs for increased value creation.

“Without electricity it is impossible to industrialise Africa,” Adesina said. The Bank has made access to electricity a top priority. Its ‘Desert to Power’ initiative will develop an estimated 10,000 MW in the Sahel region, making it the largest solar project in the world.

Adesina, the head of Africa’s leading development finance institution, says, the Bank’s 2018 Africa Investment Forum in South Africa, “secured investment commitments worth $ 38.7 billion in less than 72 hours, which provides a strong indication of global interest in Africa’s emerging markets.”

The dean of the Board of Directors of the African Development Bank, Abdelmajid Mellouki, estimates that a general capital increase would enable the Bank to provide African countries with funding at significantly lower costs.

Adesina is on a three-day visit to Korea which includes several official visits, and to receive the SunHaK Peace Prize awards for which he and co-laureate, Waris Dirie, a well-known activist against female genital mutilation, are the 2019 nominees. This is the first time the SunHak Peace Prize has been awarded to the African continent.

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