Member States of the Steering Committee for the Abidjan-Lagos Highway project have agreed to coordinate the mobilization of funds for the 1,028-kilometre road project involving five ECOWAS countries and linking several commercial and capital cities of the region.
At the end of their third meeting in Accra on 20th September 2013, the Committee, comprising Ministers of Infrastructure/Public Works of the five countries endorsed the Terms of Reference (TOR) for the feasibility studies of the project and a draft treaty to be submitted for “further consultations” to the Justice Ministers of the affected states
The decision to fast track the project followed the July 2013 Decision of Heads of State and Government of the five countries – Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria and Togo – at their meeting on the margins of the summit of regional leaders.
Ahead of the proposed Justice Ministers meeting, the Committee gave legal experts of the countries three weeks to further consider the draft treaty for finalization on 10th October 2013 at a meeting to be held at the ECOWAS Commission in Abuja.
The Ministers also agreed to submit a joint request to the African Development Bank for the funding of the feasibility studies and to “immediately commence the necessary processes” to acquire the land, secure the right of way, ensure payment of compensation and resettlement of those to be displaced.
In the spirit of the supra-national status of the project, the Ministers also decided that the cost of compensation should be covered jointly under the project.
Furthermore, they agreed to engage the services of a transaction advisor based on a competitive bidding process that will assist in the “efficient packaging of the project and bring all financing structures together for smooth implementation.”
The Committee charged the ECOWAS Commission to submit additional information that will ensure proper appraisal of the project such as the cost of the study, indicative implementation schedule, ensuring that the funding request is endorsed by Member States, that the revised TOR is circulated to development partners and the drafting of the “relevant tender documents for the studies.”
Prior to the meeting of the Committee, members were joined at an enlarged meeting by their colleagues from the ministries of justice of the affected Member States. Both meetings were preceded by a three-day meeting of legal and infrastructure experts whose report was considered by the ministers.
The experts reviewed the terms of reference for the studies, the legal and institutional arrangements, the study time-frame, funding mechanism and resource mobilization for the project.