(Corrects identity of Bouygues executive quoted in story)
ABIDJAN Feb 16 A third bridge crossing the
lagoon in Ivory Coast's economic capital Abidjan will be
completed in December and could add one percentage point to
economic growth, a senior executive at French construction
company Bouygues said.
The 1.5 km (1 mile) bridge, linked to a new six-lane
motorway, will be the first major infrastructure project
completed in Abidjan since a 2002-2003 civil war dragged the
country into a decade of turmoil.
President Alassane Ouattara, who took office in 2011 after a
short civil conflict triggered by his election win a year
earlier, has focused on kick-starting growth in the world's
largest cocoa producer, pushing ahead with a number of ambitious
"The works are running on schedule," said Charles Paradis,
chief executive officer of Bouygues Construction Concession, a
subsidiary that manages infrastructure projects. "The timetable
will be respected for it to open in December, specifically on
December 22," he added on Saturday.
With only two bridges currently crossing the Ebrie lagoon
around which Abidjan, Ivory Coast's economic capital is built,
traffic in the centre of the city is often gridlocked.
Paradis said the bridge would cut the time required to cross
the lagoon - from the residential Riviera district to commercial
hub of Marcory near the port - from two hours to roughly three
minutes, boosting economic activity by reducing time lost in
"This will bring economic benefits," Paradis said. "It
doesn't seem absurd to me to say that we could gain one point of
growth in gross domestic product."
Ivory Coast's roughly $40 billion economy makes up nearly
half of West Africa's eight-nation CFA franc currency bloc.
Paradis said the toll for using the bridge was still being
considered but could be between 700 CFA francs and 1,000 CFA
francs ($1.50 and $2.00).
The 270 million euro project was partly financed by the
Africa Finance Corporation (AFC), a Nigeria-based fund which
aims to finance infrastructure projects in Africa.
AFC's chief executive Andrew Alli told Reuters it had around
$1 billion in capital on its balance sheet for financing new
projects. He said the fund aimed to help the continent reduce an
infrastructure financing deficit he estimated at $30 billion a
($1 = 479.2900 CFA francs)
(Reporting by Ange Aboa; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Kevin