The plan by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to build a highway from Lagos, Nigeria, to Abidjan in Cote d'Ivoire, got a major boost on Thursday as the Heads of Governments in the sub-region approved US$50 million for the project. The ECOWAS leaders also approved the request by the ECOWAS works ministers to be allowed to approach the African Development Bank (AfDB) for provision of another US$16.6 million for the detailed designs of the project.
The approvals followed a three-point proposal submitted by the ECOWAS Ministerial Project Steering Committee during a meeting on the sidelines of the ongoing 22nd African Union Summit of African Heads of Governments in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The committee comprises Works and Infrastructure Ministers from Nigeria, Ghana, Togo, Benin and Cote d'Ivoire which will benefit from the highway. The committee is chaired by Nigeria's Works Minister, Mr Mike Onolemenen
At the meeting presided by Nigeria's President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, the leaders, however, deferred details of the individual members' contribution to the US$50 million to their next meeting in Nigeria. No date has yet been fixed for the meeting.
Thursday's meeting was attended by the Vice President of Ghana, Kwesi Amissah-Arthur, and representatives of the Presidents of Benin Republic and Togo, President Boni Yayi and Faure Gnassingbe. Ivorian President Alassan Quattara, who was not available for the meeting, however, met with President Jonathan later.
The ministers also wanted the ECOWAS leaders to approve and consider for initialling the draft treaty and full commitment of member-states to the project.
According to Mr Onolemenen, the US$50 million was to allow work on the road to commence in the first quarter of the 2014.
He said that the project would achieve proper regional integration in West Africa and also open up the sub-region for commerce.
Onolemenen said: 'Can you imagine what a six lane dual carriageway leading from Lagos to Abidjan and in future from Abidjan to Dakar (Senegal) will do to the economy of the sub-region. It will certainly transform the economy of the sub-region and don't forget that Nigerian alone provides 50 per cent of the population of the sub-region.'