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Côte d’Ivoire: Bouygues and the government finally agree on financing Abidjan’s metro

By Baudelaire Mieu
Posted on Friday, 11 October 2019 11:25

French President Emmanuel Macron and Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara attend a ceremony to start the construction of the first metro line in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, November 30, 2017. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

Commuters in Abidjan can soon look forward to an easier commute in and around Côte d’Ivoire's economic capital.

More than two years after the Metro d’Abidjan was inaugurated to great fanfare by Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron, the 37.5-kilometre rapid transit network will finally begin an active phase.

Long stalled by concerns of rising costs, negotiations between the Ivorian government and French group Bouygues, the head of the consortium working on the project, finally led to the signing of the agreement on Tuesday, October 8.

  • Announced first in 2017 and again in 2019, the construction of this key infrastructure project in the congested city is now planned to be completed in four years. But this time, the Ivorian government assures that the deadlines will be met.

“The project has experienced some delays, because there have been several adjustments due to technical difficulties in the field. We expect the effective start next year, for work that will take four years,” explained Sidi Touré, Minister of Communication and Media who is also the government spokesman.

  • Line 1 of the Metro d’Abidjan will connect Anyama, a suburb in the north, to Port-Bouët in the south in 50 minutes, stopping at 20 stations. The distance between the two centres is about 47 km.
  • Transport capacities have been increased. Metro d’Abidjan was initially planned to transport about 500,000 people per day, the metro will finally be able to transport 530,000 Abidjanese.

Financed exclusively by France

Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly, Minister of Transport Amadou Koné, and Minister of Budget and State portfolio Moussa Sanogo, signed the accord alongside Alain Deschamps, President of the engineering company Ade Transport and Philippe Amequin, President of Bouygues Constructions.

  • The investment, estimated at around CFAF 893.84 billion or €1.36 billion, will be financed entirely by France.
  • At the launch of the project two years ago, the French President had stressed the importance of his country’s commitment to this project: “France has offered you an unprecedented financial offer. With €1.4 billion, this is the largest effort France has ever made to launch an urban transport project abroad,” he said at the time.

Macron’s conditions

Last July, on his return from Paris, Ouattara insisted on the need to move ahead with the project. According to a source close to the Ivorian president, one of the conditions set by Macron before making a next official visit to Côte d’Ivoire was the conclusion of the urban metro chapter.

What’s next: As the project moves ahead, the next obstacle that has to be addressed is the problem of the construction site. “The construction site is very complex. The first 37-kilometre stretch runs through the entire city, although there is no infrastructure there at the moment, except for the Sitarail railway line,” one of the engineers working on the project told Jeune Afrique, on condition of anonymity.

This article first appeared in Jeune Afrique.

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