AfDB President, Akinwunmi Adesina.

The President of the African Development Bank, AfDB, Dr Akinwunmi Adesina, broke a cheering news last week that the bank had secured a $15.6 bn facility to build a world-class road corridor between Lagos and Abidjan.

At the African Investment Forum which ended on Thursday last week, the AfDB President declared: “The biggest deal for the boardroom is the $15.5bn deal for the Lagos-Abidjan highway corridor. The…highway corridor will connect Lagos, Cotonou, Lomé, Accra and Abidjan”. That is a distance of about 1,115 kilometres by land.

Akinwunmi said it would impact 500 million people, reduce the cost of transport on this ever-busy corridor by as much as 48 per cent and boost trade up to 25 per cent in the true spirit of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS. That would be unprecedented in the history of the subcontinental body.

Much as we applaud this scheme, we strongly advocate that its scope should be expanded to a bimodal transport system to really revolutionise and integrate trade in West Africa.

It should be a combination of road and rail transportation system. Such a large corridor would almost be wasted if we do not seize the opportunity and tuck in rail tracks.

Secondly, there should be a second phase that would extend the corridor to Dakar in Senegal.

This is an idea that has been late in coming. It is one of the dividends of having a smart and visionary development expert like Akinwunmi at the helm of affairs at the AfDB.

His track records as Minister of Agriculture under the President Goodluck Jonathan regime boosted his position as he vied for the AfDB presidency. Some Nigerians have also been clamouring for him to be drafted into the presidential race as opposed those whose only motivation is to fulfill a “lifelong ambition”.

The timely completion of this corridor will surely help integrate West Africa in terms of trade. The European Union is working because of the integrated transport system which had existed ahead of the formal unification.

One can move seamless round the continent by road, rail, sea and air. With the connection of the major economic centres by road (and rail), air and sea interconnection can be easily ramped up because of the opportunities that will open up.

The way that roads and rails bring the people of a country together is the same way that West African countries will experience greater integration with the completion of this ambitious project.

It will minimise the growing xenophobia, especially between Nigeria and Ghana.We call on all the countries on this corridor to quickly remove all the stumbling blocks in the way of this project.

We welcome it with open arms.

Vanguard News Nigeria

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