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The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB) approved on December 16 2016 a loan of € 237.5 million to Côte d'Ivoire for the first phase of a major project aimed at significantly improving urban transport in the city of Abidjan. The Bank is expected to provide an additional € 329.47 million in 2017, which would bring the total financing to € 567 million.
This financing will contribute to improving the living conditions of the people living in Abidjan through the development and rehabilitation of road infrastructures. More specifically, the project involves the development of 87.9 km of fast urban roads, a 1,400-meter bridge, six interchanges, the rehabilitation of traffic lights at 89 intersections, urban waste management, and the strengthening of existing capacity for traffic control, urban planning, local revenue enhancement, road safety and the protection of natural ecosystems.
"The project will be implemented from March 2017 to December 2021 and will improve traffic flow, reduce road accidents, strengthen urban management, improve air quality, increase household revenues, recycle waste, reduce greenhouse gases and improve the quality of life of the people," said Amadou Oumarou, Director of Transport and ICT department at the African Development Bank.
Abidjan is the economic hub of Côte d'Ivoire and a port city with an estimated population of 4.71 million (21% of the country's total population in 2014), projected to reach 8.5 million by 2030. This city is the main supplier of products and services that make Côte d'Ivoire the third largest exporting country in Africa, after Egypt and South Africa.
With the combined effect of population growth, rapid rise of vehicular traffic and the decline of public transport systems, the road network and the traffic control systems have proved inadequate to ensure free flow of traffic. Due to the socio-political crisis of the last fifteen years and the strong demographic pressure, the accessibility of urban areas, transport systems, traffic control, waste management and urban planning have deteriorated. This is a major constraint to the city's economic potential.
Almost all intersections have severe congestion and road conditions are slowing down traffic, leading to road accidents, air pollution, and a slowdown in economic activity not only in the city of Abidjan but also in the West African sub-region.
Abidjan is a port city and a dynamic economic center, not only for the country, but also for West Africa in general, with an estimated GDP growth rate of 8% in the short term and 7.7% in the long term. It is the services sector that, through the transport and strong urbanization of the country (the total urban population of the country rose from 28% to 51% between 1970 and 2010), which supports these economic performances.
The Bank's added value in financing the project is threefold. It participated in the elaboration and validation of the master plan for urban transport in Greater Abidjan (SDTUGA), which is the benchmark tool for all donors. Secondly, the objectives of the project are in line with the Bank's 2012-2022 Decade Strategy and its five operational Priorities (High 5s) and focus on building infrastructure to support industrialization, stimulate agricultural production, improve the living conditions of the urban population and mitigate the effects of climate change. Finally, by supporting this project, which is the first operation of the SDTUGA, the Bank affirms its leadership in the urban development sector in Côte d'Ivoire.
Addressing the Board, AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina underlined the importance of this funding, whose outcomes will benefit the entire population, in particular state and local institutions, women's associations, industrialists, transporters and agricultural producers.
At the request of the Government, the African Development Bank Group also brought together many partners to complete the financing of the HKB Bridge (named after former President Henri Konan Bédié) and thus contributed to a significant resolution of the problems of transport and urban planning in the city of Abidjan.
Focus on the fourth bridge
With a total length of 1,400 meters, the 4th bridge in Abidjan will span a stretch of the Ebrié lagoon to connect the communes of Plateau and Adjamé with Yopougon. With a population estimated at nearly two million, Yopougon is the most populous municipality of the Abidjan conurbation, and also an important industrial center. The communes of Adjame east of the Plateau are the main poles of the country’s business and administration.
"The bridge and the access roads associated with it will facilitate the daily travel of hundreds of thousands of Abidjanese and help to decongest the existing roads. It is estimated that more than 70,000 vehicles will pass through the bridge," said Jean Noël Ilboudo, Transport Engineer in charge of coordinating the project at the African Development Bank. The construction is expected to start in 2017 and end in 2020.
A port city, the 6th metropolis of the continent and economic powerhouse for West Africa, Abidjan has experienced in recent years strong demographic and economic growth which strained its transport network. The annual cost of malfunctions in the transport system in Abidjan (accidents, congestion, air pollution, greenhouse effects, noise) is estimated at 8% of national GDP.
"Reducing urban congestion will in particular contribute to strengthening the city's economic competitiveness. The 4th bridge will facilitate the movement of goods between the southern part of the city where the port and industrial zone of Vridi are located and the western and northern zones, where new industrial zones are rapidly developing," Ilboudo further said.
From a regional perspective, the 4th bridge will be a privileged transit route between the port of Abidjan and the international road corridors, especially to Burkina Faso in the north and to Liberia in the west. The accessibility to the port will support integration in the sub region by stimulating exchanges with the countries in the hinterland.