The economic growth rate in sub-Saharan Africa is projected to recover to 2.6% in 2017, following a net deceleration in 2016. According to the World Bank, the upturn in economic activity is expected to continue in 2018 and 2019, reflecting improvements in commodity prices, a pickup in global growth, and more supportive domestic conditions.
In order to fuel the growth, the region is continuously improving the quality and quantity of public infrastructure that remains weak in many sub-regions and countries. With an average GDP growth of 9% over 2012-2015, Côte d’Ivoire is working hard to restore its status as an economic engine of West Africa, with robust public infrastructure as a pillar, to become an emerging economy by 2020. Similarly, in the other French-speaking countries of Senegal and Cameroon, the construction industry is boiling and large-scale projects are currently being launched locally.
Ambitious construction projects in Francophone Africa
With a total of 80,000km of roads, Côte d’Ivoire has one the largest road networks in West Africa. However, only 6,000km are paved and it has generally suffered from a lack of maintenance during the 2000-2010 decade. As part of the 2016 2020 National Development Programme, the government has set the objective to renovate and upgrade 4,500km of roads across the country. This plan also includes the construction of a fourth bridge in Abidjan, the economic capital. While nearly 10 foreign companies are currently working on sections totalling 1,500km, the Ivorian government is still looking for funds for the remaining 3,000 km (estimation: US$13bn).
In Central Africa, Cameroon has also launched an ambitious programme to improve its road network. The 120km-highway connecting Douala to Yaoundé is currently under construction. The first portion (60km) has been completed and studies for the second one are progressing. Other strategic projects are the Douala-Limbé project and the motorway connecting the three ports of Douala, Yaoundé and Kribi. These projects are funded by Chinese companies. On a larger scale, a corridor linking the capital cities of Yaoundé and Brazzaville (Republic of Congo) is being built with funds from Islamic banks. In Senegal, Ageroute (national agency in charge of road infrastructure) has recently launched 46 road projects (investment involved: $2.8bn).
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