Three West African countries are set to get a $470 million boost from the World Bank’s International Development Association geared toward improving regional connectivity, security and socioeconomic opportunities.
Burkina Faso, Niger and Togo have earmarked the funds for developing the Lome-Ouagadougou-Niamey Economic Corridor Project, which will support tri-state collaboration on raising the quality of transport and transit services along the corridor. This is aimed at developing social and economic infrastructure and improving resilience to security and climate threats.
Anne-Cecile Souhaid, senior transport specialist at the World Bank and task team leader for the project, on Wednesday said that the goal is to expand trade and reduce transport delays for goods imported and exported through the port of Lome in Togo and among the three countries.
“The Lome-Ouagadougou-Niamey corridor is of strategic importance to Burkina Faso, Niger and Togo, and we are dedicated to supporting the countries to unleash its economic potential. This project facilitates regional cooperation by combining support for transport and trade networks with institutional reforms and logistics services to collectively address the challenges shared by the participating countries,” Souhaid said.
Vijay Pillai, the World Bank’s interim director for regional integration for Africa, pointed out that the project will simplify and improve customs processes and procedures, professionalize transport actors, and improve transport data management systems and road safety.
“The bank’s regional integration program in Africa places considerable emphasis on the development of priority regional corridors with a blend of upgrading regional road corridors and support for trade facilitation, critical for creating jobs and economic transformation,” Pillai said.
“We will support the three member countries on harmonization of transit and transport policies and procedures, improved flow of goods and people along the corridor, and de-escalation of the security situation,”he added.
The project is expected to generate strong and inclusive growth in local communities which will address gender disparities and benefit millions of people. It anticipates that the percentage of women among certified professionals in the commercial trucking and logistics industry will increase from zero to fifteen percent.
Furthermore, climate-smart methods will be used to rehabilitate feeder roads and to rehabilitate health centers, schools and information centers for women in underserved, conflict-affected areas. Improved connectivity is also expected to benefit firms and smaller producers in the region, who will gain better access to production inputs and to regional and global markets for selling their goods.