The inaugural West Africa Investment Forum concluded with the signing of $19bn of $21.5bn in infrastructure projects planned under the ‘Invest in UEMOA’ initiative of the West Africa Economic and Monetary Union, with three UAE and Omani parties.

Trojan General Contracting, which is part of the Royal Group owned by HH Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed Al Nahyan of the Abu Dhabi Royal Family, committed to equity participation in $16bn worth of road and rail projects across the region, alongside Earth Capital Partners.

Essar Projects, a UAE subsidiary of the Mumbai-based Essar Group committed to $1.98bn in additional road projects, an airport at Glo-Djigbe in Benin, a bridge at Farim in Guinea-Bissau and the construction of a coal-powered power plant in Salkadamna, Niger.

A third backer, the Oman-based Hasan Juma Backer Trading & Contracting committed to develop a $700m dry-port facility in Ferkessedougou, Côte d’Ivoire.

“All of the projects are public-private partnerships, and so it is necessary for all of the parties involved to show a real commitment,” explained Cheikhe Hadjibou Soumare, president of the UEMOA commission, on the sidelines of the event.

“We have asked that they put 85% of the value on the table, while the remaining gap will be funded by investment firms and international banks.”

He added that the contracts set a three-month due diligence period for each of the projects, renewable for a further three months, but after which time the investors must begin work on the infrastructure or risk losing the projects.

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Under UEMOA’s plans, $8bn will be spend on the rehabilitation and extension of 4,500km of rail lines linking Dakar, Bamako, Abidjan, Ouagadougou, Niamey and Cotonou, while nearly $6bn will fund a Yamoussoukro-Ouagadougou highway as part of 3,000km of planned roads.

The forum also witnessed co-hosts UEMOA, the West African Development Bank (BOAD) and Global Finance Capital Limited (GFCL) also formed a strategic partnership agreement to create a company responsible for managing the execution and timelines of the projects.

“The West Africa Investment Forum comes at a time when all eyes are on Africa.”

Arun Panchariya, founder and principal of GFCL, which has been working with UEMOA for two years to develop the framework for the ‘Invest in UEMOA’ initiaitve, commented:

“UAE entities, in particular, have shown impressive commitment to investing in our project package, and we look forward to the coming months as we help West Africa unlock dormant assets for itself, so that the region can begin to recognise its true economic potential.”