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New and improved roads lead up to development

Article - February 13, 2014
A $1.44 billion plan to raise road infrastructure to the level of other emerging countries is under way thanks to FER
In the past two years, Côte d’Ivoire has transformed itself from an ailing economy into the world’s 11th fastest growing country. Its economic revolution was powered by President Ouattara’s National Development Plan, which enabled a range of projects to kick-start the recovery, and the country’s road transport network is now a key aspect of that continued growth.
Siandou Fofana knows better than most about the impact that an effective road transport network can have on an economy. As Director General of Côte d’Ivoire’s Road Maintenance Fund (FER), he assists developments across the country that are helping businesses to deliver goods and services and drive wider economic growth. 
Mr Fofana and FER ensure that finances are available that allow new highways to be built, the network to be improved upon, and roads to be maintained appropriately. 
Its most recent project has seen it assisting with a $1.44 billion plan to upgrade the network that will see the country’s roads improved so they compare with those of their African neighbours. The project began in 2013 and will take until 2015 but Mr Fofana says an effective road network, along with its long-term maintenance, has the potential to help the country’s economy on numerous levels.
“We can use the road transport
sector as a solution to the problem of youth unemployment and dropouts, which helps to support growth in the economy”

Siandou Fofana, Director General of the Road Maintenance Fund (FER)
“Routine and periodic investments lead to jobs that do not require the intervention of heavy equipment,” he says. “The work of our teams of men play an important role, so projects can also generate jobs. We can use the road transport sector as a solution to the problem of youth unemployment and dropouts, which helps to support growth in the economy.” 
Mr Fofana is also keen to extend high quality road networks to the borders of Ghana and Burkina Faso. There have already been toll roads built which are currently being operated, and Mr Fofana says his main aim now is to improve the experience of road users themselves by providing accompanying services to drivers. As part of that initiative, he adds that opportunities for international companies to assist on new projects abound.
“We are appealing to major international players – this is the time when they can come to Africa because everything remains to be done. There are many opportunities available here connected with the construction of roads and around the services that drivers require, such as rest areas and car parks.”
Mr Fofana’s ultimate vision, he says, is to develop a road system that can compete with those that exist in Europe. To do that, he says foreign investment is being welcomed with profitable opportunities available to those interested. 
“We want to take this opportunity to extend an invitation to all those who are interested in the development of Africa, and especially to those who are intrigued by the fate of Côte d’Ivoire and who can help us ensure the true emergence of the Ivoirian economy.”