World Bank Approves US$228 Million for Abidjan-Lagos Transport Corridor

By World Bank Ghana Office

WASHINGTON, March 23, 2010 The Board of Directors of the World Bank today approved allocation of US$228 million for the first phase of the Abidjan-Lagos Trade and Transport Facilitation Program. The project will help overhaul the main transport artery stretching along the West Africa coast from Abidjan to Lagos, and the customs and immigration posts and systems located on it. This regional operation will help improve the movement of people and facilitate trade between the five countries served by corridorCôte dIvoire, Ghana, Togo, Benin and Nigeria.

The 998.8 km coastal corridor links some of the largest and economically most dynamic capitals in Africa (Abidjan, Accra, Lomé, Cotonou and Lagos), and serves a population of over 35 million people. Several segments of the corridor account for the highest traffic in West and Central Africa, with up to 10,000 people and several thousand vehicles crossing borders each day.

The potential of the corridor to become a catalyst for economic growth and regional integration in the sub-region is well documented, and it is the hope and aspiration of the governments of the five countries, with assistance from the World Bank, to harnesses this potential for socio-economic development.

The objective of the program is to reduce trade and transport barriers in the ports and on the roads along the Abidjan-Lagos coastal corridor. The program will be executed in two phases: the first phase, for an estimated cost of US$228 million, covers Ghana, Togo and Benin; while the second phase, for an estimated cost of US$89.5 million, covers Côte dIvoire and Nigeria.

The main performance indicators of this project will include: (i) port dwell time along the corridor; (ii) border crossing time along the corridor; (ii) number of road blocks; (iv) percentage of roads in good and fair condition; and (v) percentage of truckers familiar with the means of preventing HIV/AIDS.

The project will help put in place more efficient trade and transport systems and enforce regional harmonized regulations in the sub-region, said Anca Dumitrescu, World Bank Team Leader for the Project. To that end, a set of customs and border procedural reforms would be implemented along this coastal corridor. The results will be measured and monitored closely to ensure that some of the main barriers hindering true and meaningful regional integration are minimized, she added.

The project will entail five components: trade facilitation; improvement of the road corridors infrastructure; project management and coordination; HIV/AIDS programs; and corridor performance monitoring.

Expected outcomes of the project include: (i) higher transport quality and lower transportation tariffs; (ii) decrease of transportation costs for trucking companies leading to an increase in competitiveness and, therefore, better quality of service; (iii) increase in trade expansion; (iv) reduction in transport time, leading to reduced transportation costs and increased transport supply; and (v) integration of local companies into global supply chains.

If successful, the results can be scaled up at national and regional levels by member countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). This corridor approach is proposed in recognition of the challenges pertaining to enforcement of ECOWAS rules and regulations, noted Richard Scobey, Acting Director, Africa Regional Integration.

Improvement of corridor efficiency would impact exports as well as imports in the region. Increased import volumes would benefit local consumers - including local companies relying on foreign inputs - by increasing their consumer surplus. Increased export volume would benefit local producers by opening market opportunities.

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