Washington, July 15— Burkina Faso, Niger, and Togo will get a US$470 million boost from the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA)* for their ongoing efforts to improve regional connectivity, security, and socio-economic opportunity on the Lomé-Ouagadougou-Niamey corridor, the transport system connecting the three capital cities and millions of people along the 1,065 km of the corridor buffer zone.
The Lomé-Ouagadougou-Niamey Economic Corridor Project (LON), approved today by the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors, will support tri-state collaboration on raising the quality of transport and transit services along the corridor, developing social and economic infrastructure and improving resilience to security and climate threats. The goal is to expand trade and reduce transport delays for goods imported and exported through the port of Lomé and among the three countries. The corridor has a significant concentration of people and activity: 28% of Niger’s GDP and 7% of its population, 40% of Burkina Faso’s GDP and 21% of its population, and 72% of Togo’s GDP and 65% of its population.
“The LON corridor is of strategic importance to Burkina Faso, Niger, and Togo, and we are dedicated to supporting the countries to unleash its economic potential,” stated Anne-Cecile Souhaid, Senior Transport Specialist at the World Bank, and Task Team Leader for the project. “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.”
Those challenges include complex coordination among numerous institutions and stakeholders in the three countries with uneven capacities and commitments. Operational, institutional, and governance bottlenecks hamper cross-border logistics and supply chains. Recent conflicts and fragility in the region add to the complexity of regional integration and trade.
The project will address many of these issues by helping to simplify and improve customs processes and procedures, professionalize transport actors, and improve transport data management system and road safety. Travel time for fret from the port of Lome to Niamey will reduce by 25%, trucks’ border crossing between Togo and Burkina Faso will reduce by 62%, and by 54% between Burkina Faso and Niger. The project will also 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.
“The Bank’s regional integration program in Africa places considerable emphasis on 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” said Vijay Pillai, World Bank’s Interim Director for Regional Integration for Africa, the Middle East and Northern Africa. “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.”
In the long term, the populations of landlocked Niger and Burkina Faso will benefit from reduced economic isolation as a result of the LON corridor’s improved competitiveness, the expansion of regional markets, and better access to global markets. Improved connectivity will also benefit firms and smaller producers in the region, who will gain better access to production inputs (thus becoming more productive and competitive) and to regional and global markets for selling their goods. In addition, the population of the tri-state region, particularly transport sector operators, will benefit from improved road safety and security on the corridor, better technical services for vehicle maintenance, and the enhanced quality of professional standards.
* The World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), established in 1960, helps the world’s poorest countries by providing grants and low to zero-interest loans for projects and programs that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor people’s lives. IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world’s 76 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa. Resources from IDA bring positive change to the 1.5 billion people who live in IDA countries. Since 1960, IDA has supported development work in 113 countries. Annual commitments have averaged about $18 billion over the last three years, with about 54 percent going to Africa.