Interview: Kinapara Coulibaly
What are some of the main infrastructure projects on the horizon for Côte d’Ivoire?
KINAPARA COULIBALY: In 2016 the government approved the urban master plan for greater Abidjan, which includes several infrastructure projects, such as the construction of the Banko Bay Bridge – also known as the fourth bridge – which will ease traffic in the north of the city by providing a second route to Yopougon. The construction of the Solibra interchange, and the widening of Marseille Boulevard, is also expected to alleviate traffic jams in some of Abidjan’s main arteries. Given the age of our road network, we have begun the feasibility study for the recently approved road programme, which will include the reinforcement of 4500 km of asphalt roads throughout the country. The actual start of construction work is planned for the beginning of 2017.
We are also seeking to strengthen ties with our neighbours, which we believe is important for maintaining sustainable levels of growth across our economies. In this context, several projects are in the pipeline, including the rehabilitation of the Abdullah-Yamoussoukro-Bouaké-Korhogo-Ferké-Ouangolo axis – which is an important access route to Burkina Faso – and the San Pedro-Man-Touba-Odienné road, on the border with Guinea. The recently finalised Boundiali-Tengréla road, near the border with Mali, built with the support of the Islamic Development Bank, is a testament to our integration efforts in the region. In terms of sea and rail transportation, the rehabilitation of the rail system and the construction of the new container terminal at the Port of Abidjan will revitalise the country’s role as a commercial centre for Western Africa.
Côte d’Ivoire will also be hosting two major events in the next few years, including the 2017 Francophone Games, which will result in new accommodation units being built in Abidjan to provide housing for over 4000 participants. For the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations we will be building three new stadiums, including one each in Abidjan, San Pedro and Korhogo, as well as extending the existing stadium in Bouaké. Many other projects are taking place, both in Abidjan and within the provinces, such as two new universities in Man and San Pedro.
Do the infrastructure projects under the 2016-20 National Development Plan (Plan National de Développement, PND) face any challenges?
COULIBALY: Much like its predecessor, the 2016-20 PND will be focusing heavily on infrastructure. Therefore, the main challenge we face today concerns the prioritisation of these new projects. It is clear that everything cannot be rolled out at the same time, but the authorities need to consider our current construction capacity and provide a step-by-step outline of what will be built and when. In any case, this is done internally, but the country needs a fixed plan that explicitly communicates, to both the local community and foreign investors, which project will be developed first and on what timescale. A second element concerns feasibility studies. In my opinion, and given the challenging prospects for global growth, accessing financing in Côte d’Ivoire is not a major challenge, as long as projects have been assessed in terms of their financial feasibility and are executed according to specific guidelines.
There is also still room for improvement in the field of engineering and project design. Within this sector, Côte d’Ivoire is quite open to foreign involvement, with several multinational engineering groups already well-established. Moreover, it is true that some new local companies have emerged and are quickly becoming renowned, both domestically and internationally. However, we are not yet seeing a high level of cohesion between international and domestic firms. We need a plan to incentivise capacity building among our own companies in Côte d’Ivoire and then push for stronger cooperation with international groups – especially in regards to the transfer of knowledge and technology – in an effort to create a strong community of engineering professionals within the country.
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