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On Friday, December 9, 2016, the Board of Directors of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB) approved a loan of €31.3 million to the Islamic Republic of Mauritania and a loan of €9.4 million to the Republic of Senegal, to finance the construction of a bridge at Rosso, between the two banks of the Senegal River, the natural border between the two countries.
The absence of a permanent crossing structure between the two banks of the Senegal River constitutes a major handicap to the implementation of policies of economic development and regional and continental integration. The project will promote the economic development of the region and more generally the growth of road transport activities between North Africa and West Africa.
With an estimated length of 1,500 metres, the Rosso Bridge will replace ferry services that currently link the two banks of the Senegal River. The ferry boats have a limited capacity and the crossing can be dangerous during periods of flood. The lack of a bridge link was a source of delays and was a significant cost to travelers and carriers.
In addition to the construction of the bridge, the border crossing will be facilitated by the construction and equipment of a one-stop border post, allowing customs formalities of the two countries to be carried out in the same place. In total, time dedicated to formalities should be reduced to 10 minutes or less, compared to approximately an hour as it is currently.
“The project will accelerate transport activities development along the trans-African corridors Tangier-Lagos and Algiers-Dakar, and more generally between Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa,” explained Ali Ismaël Mohamed, Transport Economist at the AfDB, who is in charge of the project. Mohamed estimates that “traffic of vehicles on this axis should multiply by three by 2025.”
The whole region is expected to experience strong growth in commercial activities, especially as the construction of the bridge will be complemented by the construction of more than 60 kilometres of rural roads, which will serve the agricultural areas. For both countries, these regions are the main producers of rice and the performance of their agricultural sector is an important food security issue. In Senegal, the AfDB has recently invested in several projects to open up areas with high agricultural potential and to support producers. One component of this project is the development of market gardening areas and processing platforms for women’s cooperatives. Markets/road stations will also be built on each side of the bridge.
Improvement of living conditions of populations will finally be possible, thanks to a series of related developments. These include the rehabilitation of seven schools and three health posts, the establishment of a drinking water supply network in the twin cities of Rosso, the establishment of sanitation networks on the Mauritanian side, and the construction and equipment of a social complex for young people, women and the disabled.
“Beyond its important contribution to the dynamics of regional integration, the project meets the basic objective set by the AfDB: the promotion of inclusive and sustainable growth,” said Amadou Oumarou, Director of the Department of Transport, Urban Development and ICT at the AfDB.
The project is cofinanced by the Mauritanian and Senegalese governments, as well as the European Investment Bank and the European Union, for a total amount of €87.6 million.