Ecowas Ministers Agree On Implementation Action Plan On Proposed Lagos-Abidjan Highway

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Abuja - Nigeria — ECOWAS Ministers of Works/Road Infrastructure, Transport, Finance and Justice from Benin, Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria and Togo, ended their one-day meeting of Monday, 22nd April 2013 in Abuja with an agreement on an implementation plan for the construction of a proposed highway linking Abidjan to Lagos.

A supra-national agency to be set up will manage the project implementation phase to ensure uniformity in approach and standards for the road whose development will be regionally coordinated. The ministers, whose meeting was in response to a recent directive by the Heads of State of the five countries affected by the project to further improve the Lagos-Abidjan corridor, also considered issues relating to project preparation and development as well as modalities for the mobilization of funds so as to ensure a speedy development of the project. They also discussed the initial assessment studies, feasibility studies and design plan including detailed design cost, and development of an investment plan including a funding-transaction support arrangement.

Also considered were the institutional framework consisting of a memorandum of understanding, and a joint development agreement and/or international project agreement, including highway development and management strategy. In order to address the legal dimensions of the project, the ministers recommended the development of an appropriate legal framework to accord the corridor a regional status to prevent obstacles imposed by national laws and policies. In addition, they agreed to consider available options for the involvement of the private sector in project preparation, development and implementation; as well as ensure the implementation of the adopted ECOWAS Regional Supplementary Act on axle load limitation and control to safeguard investments made in constructing the roads.

Moreover, they proposed the inclusion of corridor management and road governance components to ensure a holistic solution to the free movement of persons, goods and services along the corridor, which covers a total distance of 1,028 kilometres and carries more than 75 per cent of trade in West Africa. The ministers' report will be presented to the Presidents of the concerned Member States at the margins of the 26th May 2013 summit in Addis Ababa. Represented at the meeting were the ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development (EBID), the African Development Bank (AfDB), the African Finance Corporation (AFC), the European Union Delegation, the Spanish Cooperation, the Japan International Agency (JICA) and the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Organization (ALCO).

In his opening remarks, the President of the ECOWAS Commission who was represented by the Commissioner for Infrastructure, Mr. Ebrima Njie, pointed out some of the problems associated with the corridor, and urged the meeting to come up with practical modalities to realize the vision of the Heads of State and Government. The Minister of Works of Nigeria, Architect Mike Oziegbe Onolememen who chaired the occasion, reiterated the objectives of the meeting and reminded participants of the problems along the corridor.

He stressed the need to effectively address all obstacles on the corridor in order to help ensure a smooth integration process in West Africa. Nigeria's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Olugbenga Ashiru, who gave the welcome address, was represented at the meeting by a director in the Ministry, Mr. Adekunle Ogunsanya.

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