The West African regional bloc ECOWAS took a major step in its avowed commitment to regional infrastructure development with the signing of the Treaty on the Lagos-Abidjan Highway Project, on the sidelines of its just-concluded 44th Ordinary Summit here, PANA reported Sunday.
The treaty was signed Saturday by the Presidents or representatives of the five countries involved in the project ? Benin, C?te d?Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria and Togo ? at the conclusion of the summit, held at the Felix Houphouet-Boigny centre in Cote d?Ivoire?s political capital city, Yamoussoukro.
Capturing the signing of the treaty in their communique, the ECOWAS leaders welcomed the signing and the commitment made by the member states involved to ?confer an international status? on the regional project, and to accelerate its actualisation.
They asked development partners and financial institutions to support the project?s implementation.
PANA reports that the five countries have already pledged to contribute US$50 million in seed money to start preliminary work on the 1,028-km corridor road project.
The seed fund is to take care of preparatory activities and also spur the participation of public and private sector operators interested in investing in the project, a six-lane highway expected to carry some 75 per cent of goods transported in the region, linking most of its major ports.
The project comes under Phase I of the Lagos-Dakar regional infrastructural development programme, which is aimed at boosting trade as well as free movement of persons, goods and services in the region.
Earlier in the year, the ECOWAS Commissioner for Infrastructure, Mr. Ebrima Njie, had said that a Selective Tendering process was being initiated to select Consultants to undertake the Feasibility and Design Studies for the project, while the African Development Bank (AfDB) had been approached for funding the studies as part of the initial Fund Mobilization and Project financing efforts.
The new ECOWAS Chairman, Ghana?s President John Dramani Mahama, has listed regional infrastructural development among his three priorities during his one-year tenure that started on Saturday.
Others are peace and security as well as economic integration and development of West Africa.