Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Coordination Meeting ends with calls for accelerated implementation and recognition of challenges ahead

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A regional corridor meeting, held in Abidjan, on the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor concluded Monday with calls for renewed commitment, accelerated implementation while also recognising the challenges ahead to ensure improved efficiency on the corridor.

The one-day meeting, convened by the African Development Bank (AfDB), brought together all parties involved in the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor, to encourage better donor coordination along the corridor, share views, discuss challenges, opportunities and the strategy going forward.

Over 65 delegates representing development partners, government officials and other corridor organisations and institutions participated in the meeting. The meeting highlighted key challenges and made recommendations for the way forward to accelerate the corridor project delivery and implementation.

In his remarks, Mohamed Hassan representing the AfDB, spoke of the conference having achieved “a clear recognition of the need for a more coordinated approach and responsibility-sharing on the management of the corridor.” He also reminded participants of the opportunities and the strategy going forward: “The Abidjan-Lagos Coordination Meeting was a unique opportunity to hear from all the parties involved in the management of the corridor. The African Development Bank is committed to facilitating these meetings. We heard from all stakeholders on their project activities and interventions along the corridor,” he concluded.

Delegates from the five member countries – Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire – gave status reports of their implementation activities on the corridor, while highlighting areas for further improvement. In terms of trade facilitation, the countries called for the creation of a knowledge- and data-sharing platform. The representatives also espoused the need for effective implementation of rules and protocols to facilitate free movement of people and goods.

Representatives from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), development partners, namely the World Bank, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), Japan’s International Cooperation Agency ECOWAS, USAID, the European Union and the Organisation of the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor (ALCO), also made presentations on their activities along the corridor.

The following recommendations and key takeaways were drawn from the meeting:

  • Combining and strengthening financial interventions;
  • Creating a platform for knowledge management and sharing;
  • Assessing development impacts of activities along the corridor;
  • Drawing valuable lessons and adopting best practices from other regions; and
  • Setting up a coordination mechanism for improved and accelerated corridor performance, as well as the creation of an effective tool to monitor implementation of Heads of States’ decisions.

Delegates also called for increased engagement with corridors users, especially the private-sector stakeholders, in order to elicit information and policy inputs while also exploring avenue for sensitisation and advocacy for their compliance with regulations and texts governing the corridor.

Speaking to journalists after the meeting, ECOWAS Infrastructure Commissioner Antoinette G. Weeks commended participants for providing recommendations to create a more effective coordination model and key steps to improve effectiveness along the corridor. For ECOWAS, there is undoubtedly a list of achievements that “give us reasons to be optimistic. The key challenge is to find pragmatic and concrete solutions for free movement of goods along borders,” Weeks said.

“We want to look at the corridor as a key economic driver for the region – not just the construction of a highway – and ensure the initial Heads of States’ vision for the corridor is truly encapsulated in the project implementation,” she concluded.

Going forward, drawing from the rich insights of this initial co-ordination meeting, which help provide updates on the current and future engagements of respective partners and stakeholders, delegates agreed to hold annual coordination meetings. This will help create synergies and reduce duplication of efforts that might arise. In view of this development, Mamady Souaré, AfDB Division Manager, NEPAD Regional Integration and Trade Department, announced the organisation of the next coordination meeting in Accra, Ghana, on September 27 and 28, 2017.

The Abidjan-Lagos Corridor is a flagship project of the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA), which was endorsed by African Heads of States in February 2012 at the 18th African Union Summit in Addis Ababa. The Abidjan-Lagos Corridor is the busiest corridor in West Africa – a six-lane 1,028-kilometre-long highway that will link Abidjan, Accra, Lomé, Cotonou and Lagos, while serving the landlocked countries and ports in the region. The corridor is one of the main economic drivers of West Africa.

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