The ECOWAS Commission, the executing Agency for the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Highway Development Project, has organized the seventeenth (17th) Project Ministerial Steering Committee in Lomé, Togo on 9th December 2022 to take stock of implementation progress and agree on measures to expedite the completion of the detailed design & financing strategy studies and the establishment of the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Management Authority (ALCoMA) , a Supranational Entity created by the Project Treaty to construct, manage and operate the Corridor on behalf of the five countries.
The feasibility, detailed engineering designs and PPP financing options studies suffered major delays as a result of lockdowns and border closures during the heights of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Following persistent negotiations and technical meetings between ECOWAS, the Design Consulting Firms and the African Development Bank, the studies have recommenced.
Welcoming Ministers and participants to the meeting, the ECOWAS Commissioner for Infrastructure, Energy and Digitalization of the ECOWAS Commission, Mr. Sediko Douka, thanked Honorable Ministers on the Steering Committee and his predecessor Mr. Pathé Gueye and his predecessors, for the consistent dedication to advancing the technical and project preparatory studies for the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Highway Development Project.
He then highlighted some specific measures taken by the new ECOWAS Management to ensure a reduction of the processing and approval time for procurement and contracting.. “This Management Team has adopted four (4) key Strategic Objectives to guide its four-year tenure from 2022 to 2026. The Strategic Objectives, known as the 4 x 4 Strategic Objectives of ECOWAS, identifies the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Highway Development Project as a key priority under the Objective 4 on – Inclusive and Sustainable Development. The President of the Commission has therefore made this project a personal priority and will follow it up for expedited completion.”
In demonstrating the readiness of the Commission to accelerate the project, Commissioner Douka intimated that together with the African Development Bank and the Consultants, the study schedule has been compressed considering the 31st of December 2024 deadline for the Financing Agreement. He informed Honourable Ministers that, the feasibility and detailed engineering design studies which had stalled by the three (3) consultants when they last met, has re-commenced and the draft reports are expected to be received by April 2023. “Also, we have agreed with the Consultants to carry out the Financing & Implementation Strategy for the project, phase 4, simultaneously with the detailed engineering design to save time. This will enable to commencement of the PPP Procurement and Contracting in the last Quarter of 2023.”
The Project Task Manager of the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Development Project, for the African Development Bank, Mrs. Lydie Ehouman, thanked the ECOWAS Commission for expediting actions to ensure the early completion of the Studies. She assured the Steering Committee of the Banks resolve to help ECOWAS adhere to the new emergency timelines agreed.
In his opening speech, the Chair of the Ministerial Steering Committee and Minister of Works and Housing of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Honorable Babatunde Raji Fashola, acknowledged the solidarity messages from Honorable Ministers and their representatives which the unity and togetherness with which the Heads of State decided to jointly implement the Corridor Highway project as a single unit as opposed to the earlier individualistic approach of each country concentrating on their sections.
He urged colleague Ministers on the Steering Committee to keep the spirit of togetherness based on trust among each other, which are essential to the success of this novel cross-border highway project. Taking turns to give their solidarity messages, the Honorable Minister of Roads and Highways of Ghana, his Togolese counterpart, Madam Zourehatou Kassa-Traore Minister of Public Works and the representative of the Honorable Minister of Road Maintenance of Cote d’Ivoire extended their countries continues commitment to see to the successful end of the project.
The Project technical studies have received an additional financial boost of €3.5m from the European Union to augment resources earlier mobilized from the EU’s African Investment Fund (AfIF) and the African Development Bank, the major financing of the technical studies. The ECOWAS Commission also makes annual allocation for its internal sources to support the project management activities.
The 17th Steering Committee took important decisions covering the project financing, the proposed tunnel at the Accra Bypass, securing the Right of Way for the highway by the beneficiary countries and completion of addenda and technical studies. They also decided to enhance the Communications & Visibility around the project.
Another critical decision taken by the Ministers was the authorization of the ECOWAS Commission to commence the constitution of the Board of ALCoMA, by requesting nominations from the five (5) corridor Member States. On the issue of the hosting of the Headquarters, Honorable Ministers tasked ECOWAS to re-submit it to the Heads of State and Government of Corridor members to conclude the decision.