The contract for the proposed Dakar-Djibouti highway project will be awarded soon, according to the New Economic Partnership for African Development (NEPAD), a multi-nation organization set up to ensure an integrated socio-economic development in Africa.
‘Two engineering companies from South Africa and Tunisia are competing for this huge infrastructure project,’ said NEPAD transportation consultant Adama Deen at a recent press briefing in Midrand, South Africa.
‘The two companies have submitted financial proposals and we are evaluating them.’
NEPAD will supervise the construction of the approximately 7,000-km Dakar-Djibouti highway.
‘The challenge for Africa is to build a road network, the main tool for accelerating dynamic trade between countries,’ Deen said, but did not name the companies contending for the multi-billion dollar project.
Jean Ping, chairperson of the African Union Commission, had said at the 12th African Union summit in Addis Ababa earlier this year that the organization wants to put together a programme for infrastructure development.
Ping specifically mentioned the Cairo-Cape Town and Dakar-Djibouti highways, saying: ‘Although there are missing links along these routes, there are projects in place. For example, the road between Khartoum and Cairo is under construction and a feasibility study has been undertaken for the Dakar-Djibouti Highway.’
Experts at the summit, which was themed ‘Infrastructure Development in Africa’, had also said Africa’s infrastructure, long identified as a key requirement for economic growth, needs to be developed.
‘Despite the global economic crisis, which can have implications for the availability of finance for infrastructure development in Africa, with determination, the challenges can be met,’ said Elham Ibrahim the African Union’s commissioner for infrastructure and energy, at the summit.