This, when completed, is expected to bolster integration of Nigerian businesses with African peers and support the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
The AfDB confirmed this development in a statement on Tuesday, saying that it was part of its investments in West Africa which currently stood at $16 billion.
President of the African Development Bank Akinwunmi Adesina said this in a speech at the 59th Ordinary Session of the Economic Community of West African Authority of Heads of States and Government in Ghana, according to the statement.
“We expect the construction for the corridor to commence within 24 months,” Adesina said.
He explained that the highway would link 85 per cent of the trade volume in ECOWAS through the corridor, a step industry experts said would deepen trade integration, especially now that the AFCTA), targeted at boosting a combined gross domestic product of $3.4 trillion, had commenced.
Nigeria’s trade volume to Cameroon was $888.58 million in 2019, according to the United Nation’s COMTRADE database on international trade.
Industry experts have expressed optimism that the trade volume between Nigeria, Cameroon and other African countries at the trade corridor will improve upon the completion of the road.
“These are the kinds of initiative that offers more opportunities for our people, especially with the coming in of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement. There should be more of these initiatives to help our people move their goods around Africa since our trade pattern is still largely informal,” Associate Consultant to the British Department of International Development Celestine Okeke told The ICIR.
Notably, the Enugu-Bamenda Highway is part of the Trans-African Highway conceived over 30 years ago as a transcontinental link from Lagos to Mombasa. Today, the highway stretches 6,300 km, traversing Nigeria, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and Kenya.
Industry experts emphasise the importance of infrastructural development in intra-African trade, noting that with road improvement, transport costs and poverty levels along this economic corridor would be reduced dramatically.
“Infrastructural advancement is key in advancing Africa’s trade integration, and with the level of progress recorded so far by the government, it is only proper that the organised private sector gradually begin to take the lead in advancing the progress of the trade pact to grow investments in the country,”Former Attorney General and Minister of Justice in Nigeria and a former President of Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry Adetokumbo Kayode said.