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Business News of Saturday, 19 October 2019

Source: Graphic.com.gh

Promote Abidjan-Lagos Highway project - Veep urges ECOWAS states

The Vice-President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, has urged member states pursuing the proposed Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Highway Development Project to institute a robust communication strategy to market it on the domestic and international stage to attract promoters and investors.

He also asked the member states of ECOWAS to appropriately address issues of resettlement by paying adequate compensation to people who would be affected by the project in accordance with the national laws of their respective countries.

Dr Bawumia said this when he addressed the 13th Ministerial Steering Committee Meeting on the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Highway Development Project in Accra on Friday.

“I urge you to put in place a robust communication strategy to market the project domestically, regionally and internationally to attract promoters and investors. We should also guarantee local content in the choice of contractors, consultants and others for the development and management of the corridor,” he stated.

The Vice-President said Ghana had taken a keen interest in ensuring the inclusion of its nationals in the development of the infrastructure, thus offering a wide range of job opportunities for domestic businesses and labour.

“It is important that member states take a good look at the legal and territorial parameters of the project within the regional context, as well as project management issues,” he stated.

“We must also establish the office of the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Management Authority (ALCoMA) urgently during this initial phase to ensure that issues relating to land acquisition and ownership, which have the tendency to impact negatively on the implementation, are thoroughly managed right at this stage to properly inform a comprehensive and functional design for project implementation,” he added.

Background

In order to facilitate transportation on the corridor, which is responsible for more than 75 per cent of the volumes of trade in West Africa, several interventions from ECOWAS, friends of West Africa and countries along the corridor have been undertaken over the years.

These include road infrastructure improvement, border posts restructuring and soft transport facilitation interventions to harmonise border control processes and procedures to improve the free flow of goods and movement of persons.

Benefits

The corridor, Dr Bawumia said, covered a total distance of 1,080 kilometres and was connected to some of the largest and economically vibrant cities in Africa, namely Lagos, Cotonou, Lome, Accra and Abidjan.

“It also links some major seaports, serving our landlocked neighbours of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger,” he said.

He added that the development of the corridor had become even more critical following the coming into force of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), the Secretariat of which Ghana was hosting.

Vice-President Bawumia added that the AfCFTA would cover a market of 1.2 billion people, with a combined GDP of $3 trillion, across the 54 member states of the African Union (AU) that had signed up to the agreement.

That, he indicated, offered a huge opportunity to exploit the abundant wealth and resources on the continent for the benefit of all the people and offer protection in how to deal with other trading blocks.

“It will provide the vehicle for the member states to trade among themselves in a more modern and sophisticated manner. Thus, it presents us with further motivation to implement effectively this project for the gains and common good of our respective countries, the region and Africa,” Dr Bawumia posited.

Funding

Touching on the funding for the project, Dr Bawumia expressed delight that the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the EU had come on board to support the project with $1.4 million for the commencement of feasibility and detailed engineering studies.

He, therefore, called on other financial institutions and friends of Africa to consider supporting the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Highway project, which he said was economically viable and had considerable potential.

While commending member states for the ratification of the treaty for the establishment of the project, the signing of the Inter-Governmental Agreement and the ongoing feasibility and detailed engineering studies, Dr Bawumia said the benefits of the project were large and cautioned the steering committee to be mindful of the environmental and social impact the project might have on the people in the operational areas.

Resettlement

On the resettlement of people who may be displaced by the project, the Vice-President said much as infrastructure development was important, “we should not be seen as creating social problems or unduly and adversely impacting the lives of the people within the corridor of influence.”

He, therefore, stressed that resettlement issues should be appropriately addressed.

He said the offer of Ghana to host the Corridor Management Authority was still valid since the country had the environment and facilities to give a befitting office for the region’s most lucrative corridor.

“We will, however, respect the decision taken by my colleagues on who hosts AlCoMA, and I am confident that member states will not wax cold irrespective of the choice to be made,” the Vice-President added.

EU Ambassador

The EU Ambassador to Ghana, Ms Diana Acconcia, said she was hopeful that the project would help bring people together.

She stated that it was the kind of relations the EU intended to develop through the EU-Africa alliance.

Ms Acconcia described the project as an ambitious one in terms of the size and budget, saying the EU had again proposed an amount of 3.5 million Euros, bringing its total contribution to the project to 12.63 million Euros.