The two West Africa Regional Blocs, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) are meeting to identify priority investment projects in the area of transport and energy.
The meeting, which is under the European External Investment Plan is a preparatory technical meeting would enable the participants exchange, share ideas and review information on the Region’s initiatives in the two sectors to facilitate free movement and trade.
Mr Pathe Gueye, the Commissioner of Infrastructure at the ECOWAS, speaking at the opening of a five-day meeting on Monday in Accra said it had been the ultimate goal to ensure intra-trade but poor transport infrastructure had thwarted the realization of the goal.
The sector, he said had not played its rightful role effectively and efficiently due to factors including poor road conditions, poor coordination of road management and high cost of transportation.
“Aside from the problem on our roads, the railway networks are not interconnected and they are outdated,” he said.
Mr Gueye said the European Union (EU) and West Africa signed a major financing agreement of €1,150 million for various sectors including transport and energy.
He said the funding marked a turning point, a new era of European Union and West Africa cooperation, in the infrastructure sector, with investments in the form of mixed financing or “blending” and support for the transport and energy governing bodies.
The Commissioner said, an initial total amount of approximately €330 million had been invested in infrastructure, of which approximately 168 million euros has been invested into energy and 162 million euros in transport.
An allocation of €70 million, he said had also been made to the governing bodies of which €32 million was for energy and 38 million euros for transport.
“These investments have already financed seven energy projects and ten transport projects in West Africa and the Region wants to plan towards the development of a new portfolio of projects,” he said.
Mr Kwesi Amoako Atta, Minister of Roads and Highways said a consultant had been commissioned to commence feasibility studies on the Abidjan-Lagos Expressway Project adding that the West African Growth Ring Masterplan (WAGRM) had been completed.
He said the WAGRM had economic potential that could enhance the collective growth of Ghana, Togo, La Cote D’Ivoire and Burkina Faso.
The Minister said ECOWAS continues to facilitate the construction of Joint Border Posts, of which the one at Akanu/Noepe located between Ghana and Togo, was commissioned in October last year jointly by the President of Ghana and Togo.
He said Ghana’s two main international road corridors and coastal corridor would play an important role in serving the regional trade.
“As much as we have made the effort to manage the continuous maintenance and attempting to reduce the physical and non-physical barriers to trade, we continue to face challenges due to the low commitment of our neighbours to regional protocols regarding axle loads,” he said.