The Ministers of Infrastructure, Equipment and Public Works of ECOWAS Member States are set to meet on 28 April 2023 in Niamey, Niger, to validate a number of Community texts on road maintenance. The ministerial meeting will convene after the workshop of road maintenance experts taking place on 26 and 27 April in Niamey.
Three major Community texts will be submitted for consideration and validation by the Ministers. They include the Diagnostic Report of the Study on Financing Road Maintenance in the ECOWAS region, the Road Maintenance Financing Strategy with an action plan and a monitoring and evaluation framework, and the Draft Supplementary Act on Financing Road Maintenance.
The regional road maintenance financing strategy focuses on improving the operational condition of roads by ensuring a sustainable financing system for the maintenance of the road network.
All the Community texts will include a Supplementary Act which will be submitted to the ECOWAS Council of Ministers for approval, and then for endorsement by the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government in July 2023.
The opening ceremony of the Niamey ministerial meeting will feature two addresses: one by Sédiko Douka, ECOWAS Commissioner for Infrastructure, Energy and Digitalisation, and the other by Hon. Moctar Gado Sabo, Minister of Public Works of the Republic of Niger, who will officially open the meeting.
The meeting will also be attended by the ECOWAS Resident Representative to the Republic of Niger, the national agencies in charge of road maintenance (project management, financing and auditing), the Representative of the European Union Commission, the Directors and Technical Experts of Member States and the ECOWAS Commission, as well as the Representatives of SSATP (Sub-Saharan Africa Transport Policy Program), UNECA (United Nations Economic Commission for Africa), UEMOA (West African Economic and Monetary Union), ARMFA (African Road Maintenance Funds Association), AfDB (African Development Bank), EBID (ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development) and other development partners involved in road maintenance financing.
It is important to note that among the challenges identified in the road infrastructure sector, the poor condition of roads is one such challenge. Transport costs represent a significant part of the cost structure of goods that ECOWAS Member States produce or import. Transport costs (construction, reconstruction, maintenance, usage) are excessively high, making the region’s products uncompetitive in international markets. These costs increase as roads deteriorate due to increased vehicle operating costs for maintenance and excessive fuel consumption, costs associated with longer travel times, and costs associated with road transport accidents.
Studies have also shown that, on average, only 10% of the funds needed for road maintenance are provided by Member States. As a result, there is a huge funding gap for road maintenance in the ECOWAS region.
It is against this backdrop that the ECOWAS Commission, with the support of the European Union, is implementing a transport governance project that covers key issues such as transport facilitation, road safety, axle load control, harmonisation of road design standards, improvement of the regional trucking and road transport industry, the regional road information system and the monitoring of abnormal practices, the integration of cross-cutting issues such as HIV/AIDS, environment/climate change and gender in interstate road transport, as well as the promotion of the free movement of persons and goods through the reduction of checkpoints and other non-tariff barriers along interstate roads.
The texts on financing road maintenance, road safety policy and the Supplementary Act on Axle Loads are critical elements to ensure road sustainability, reduce accidents and ensure the competitiveness of our products.