AFRICAN Development Bank (AfDB) officials have promised that the $430m Enugu to Bamenda highway linking Nigeria and Cameroon by road will be completed later this year opening up the economies of both countries to each other.
Despite being neighbours, transportation links between Nigeria and Cameroon are very poor, inhibiting trade between the two nations. In a bid to open up commerce, the AfDB has thus funded the construction of the Enugu-Bamenda motorway as part of its wider $16bn investment programme across West Africa.
Speaking at the at the 59th ordinary session of the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) heads of state and government in Ghana, AfDB president Dr Akinwunmi Adesina, said the highway project will transform trade opportunities between the two countries. He added that the bank was also working assiduously with the Ecowas Commission to finalise feasibility studies for the Abidjan-Lagos corridor by the end of 2021.
According to Dr Adesina, when operational, the highway would link 85% of the trade volume in Ecowas through the corridor. He pointed out that AfDB was investing massively in West Africa and the total active portfolio of the bank in West Africa currently stood at $16bn, with support for infrastructure in the region doubling over the past five years.
Dr Adesina said: “The Senegambia Bridge is rapidly facilitating trade between Senegal and The Gambia and our financing helped to double the capacity of the Lome container port in Togo, which is critical for regional transport and logistics. Also, the Bamako to San Pedro corridor has helped to expand trade between Côte d’Ivoire and Mali by 34%, while reducing transit time at the border from 24 hours to just two hours.
“In addition, the 303km road linking Ouagadougou and Lome has reduced travel time from six days to just two days. Our $650m financing for the transport corridors linking Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia will impact economic opportunities for 51m people and I am pleased that this year, the bank will provide $105m financing for the road linking Guinea-Bissau and Senegal.”
Furthermore, Dr Adesina said that the $20bn desert-to-power programme on energy would develop 10,000 MW of solar power to light up the Sahel and provide access to electricity for 250m people. He added: “This project will make the Sahel the largest solar zone in the world.
“Also, right here in Ghana, the bank’s financing of $120m for the new terminal at Kokota International Airport is having huge impacts on regional transport and freight movements. With the new terminal, freight handling has expanded by 30%.”
He added that the bank provided $4.5m for the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area Secretariat in Accra, to further support regional trade in the continent. While recalling the effects of Covid-19 on the continent, Dr Adesina said the bank launched a $10bn facility to support African countries navigate through the challenging times posed by the pandemic.