Newly constructed railway tracks will join up with existing tracks in West Africa to form a gigantic, 3000-kilometer railway line linking seven countries with completion planned for the end of 2015.
The new rail project is designed to help move minerals from mines to ports, but experts say it has the potential to drive up further economic development, according to CNN.
Building a railroad network along the West African coast from Abidjan in Côte d’Ivoire to Lomé in Togo has been talked about for years, AfricaRenewal reports.
After several delays, construction is now back on track thanks to the francophone Conseil de l’Entente, or Council of Accord, West Africa’s oldest subregional cooperation forum.
One of the most inexpensive ways to transport goods for long distances over land, railways are sparse in West Africa. Lines are generally fragmented and not connected to a bigger network, according to CNN.
The new West Africa railway, when completed, will link Benin, Burkina Faso, Niger, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria and Togo, CNN reports.
Niger and Benin started working on their stretch of the project in April, according to the U.N. Burkina Faso and Togo began soon after.
The projected regional railroad network is expected to speed up transport times for freight and reduce the prices of consumer goods for landlocked countries such as Niger and Burkina Faso because most imported goods will be shipped by train. Those countries are also expecting the regional railroad network to boost their exports of natural resources, according to AfricaRenewal.
Niger has the most excessive transport costs on the continent, CNN reports.