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Africa is Confronting Border Challenges With These Access Bridge Links

The increasing rate of bridge projects between African states further proves the importance of easy border access. In recent times, more African countries are signing agreements to link their border areas in a bid to promote regional trade. The latest project is the Cameroon – Equatorial Guinea bridge over the Ntem River.

In December last year, officials met for the presentation of the results of the feasibility study carried out to construct a bridge over the Ntem River, on the Kribi-Campo (Cameroon)-Bata (Equatorial Guinea) corridor. The two countries agreed on a meeting in February 2019 to discuss more details about the project based on the results of the preliminary study and proposals of the Joint Technical Committee for project monitoring. On Saturday, February 2, an agreement was reached to construct the bridge. According to the agreement, the construction of the bridge will begin this year and will be overseen by the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS). The contractor and the cost of the project are yet to be disclosed. 

However, the African Development Bank (AfDB) had agreed in principle to provide XAF2 billion for this project, since 2013. Also, in 2016, a contract was signed with the ECTA BTP/Tractebel consortium for the technical study.

Once completed, the facility is expected to strengthen and increase traffic of people and goods between the two States, ease and promote trade, and finally ensure the safe crossing of the river. The bridge will link Campo in Cameroon to Equatorial Guinea’s largest commercial city, Bata.

Below are other recent bridge projects around Africa:

The Kazungula Bridge Project

The construction of a new road and rail bridge across the Zambezi River will link the town of Kazungula in Zambia with Botswana – a strategic solution to enhance regional trade within the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

The Kazungula Bridge Project is 923-metre-long by 18.5-metre-wide, and its location traverses the intersection of the Zambezi and Chobe rivers at which point four countries – Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe – meet. The access link is expected to bridge the regional divide and boost the regional economy through increased traffic throughout the North-South Corridor, a key trade route linking the port of Durban in South Africa to Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique, DR Congo, and up to Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania.

Construction began in 2014, financed by the governments of Zambia and Botswana, the African Development Bank, the EU-Africa Infrastructure Trust Fund grant and the Japan International Cooperation Agency after the governments of Zambia and Botswana announced a deal to build a bridge, replacing the existing Kazungula ferry service. Till date, traders, travelers, fishermen and women cross the Zambezi river on floating planks, ferries, rickshaw boats and canoes. This makes business activities slow and stressful, limiting trade flows between the countries.

As of October 2018, the project had created about 1,485 new jobs including employment for 118 women. When completed, the facility will improve overall accessibility and serve as an effective gateway for exports from Zambia and Botswana. This will ease trade as the reduce time-based trade and transport costs, transit time for freight and passengers from between three to eight days to less than half a day.

The Kazungula Bridge Project will have a single-line railway track, pavement for pedestrians and international border facilities: two One-Stop Border Posts, located on Botswanan and Zambian territory. When the bridge will be connected to the Mosetse-Kazungula Railway.

The Senegambia bridge project

The Republic of Gambia and Senegal recently inaugurated the “Senegambia bridge” situated near Farafenni and will serve as a link between the two halves of The Gambia. The 1.9-kilometre bridge is one of West Africa’s longest and is expected to have positive impacts on the economy.Commencement of this bridge dates as far back as 1970. However, due to several changing relations between Dakar and Banjul, construction didn’t start until 2015.

Not only does the completion of this project suggest a renewed understanding between both countries, but it is also poised to promote intra African trade, like easing the movement of both goods and people.  This bridge will aid exportation of minerals and fuels and basic foodstuffs to distant market. The bridge will serve as a route for people commuting from the north of Senegal to the southern Senegalese province of Casamance.

This development promotes economic growth and infrastructural benefits to both economies. It will also create employment opportunities for the youths.

This innovation will aid trade and make it more cost-effective, thus providing the ease of transportation of persons, goods, and availability of vital services.

Prior to this, most people had to opt for using a ferry to cross over to the south or would be forced to take the longer route around the Gambia. Lorry drivers had to queue for days or even weeks to cross and this often led to the damage of perishable goods. With this latest development, a journey which would usually take a day or more will now take only about 5 hours.

The success of the project is attributed to the people of Gambia, partners, especially the African Development Bank whose grant of US$65 million was used for the construction of the bridge.

Over the years, both economies have had disputes over transportation, it is hoped that the Senegambia bridge will cement such issues from arising. According to President Barrow, the bridge “ends centuries of travel difficulties.”
Other countries that have planned a bridge to link their capital are the two Congos. In November 2018, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Republic of Congo (RC) signed an agreement to build a bridge across the river that separates their capital city Kinshasa and Brazzaville. The project is set to include a toll bridge, railway track, road and a sidewalk.

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