In 1962, when the revolutionary spirit against colonialism prevailed and marked the longing for unity among the countries of the African continent, Algeria, Nigeria, Tunisia, Mali, Niger and Chad formed the “Committee to Connect the Trans-Saharan Road”, then called the “Road of African Unity”, at a distance of 9900 km.
Due to the political and economic conditions experienced by the countries of the group, the project continued to progress slowly over the course of 6 full decades, before it moved strongly on the part of Algeria during the last two decades thanks to the financial prosperity of the oil. Read also Algeria will not renew the contract with the French metro management company.. who will succeed it? 2600 “Prohibited” products from being imported into Algeria. Experts warn of the worst.. The decline of the Algerian dinar continues unabated African Free Zone .. Does Algeria have the competitive capabilities in the continent’s markets?
Algeria recently announced the receipt of the road this June, as the crack linking it with Lagos is the backbone of the project, with a distance of 4,500 km, passing through Niger.
And the Algerian government, which spent $2.6 billion on its share, revealed that the road will be doubled with a pipeline that allows the export of Nigerian gas through Algeria’s ports to Europe in particular, and to the rest of the world in general, in addition to the completion of a fiber-optic line linking it to Nigeria, with its gradual transformation into motorway
As for the parts of the project across the territories of the other five countries, they are 295 km long in Tunisia, 1,688 km in Mali, 2,597 km in Niger, 1,299 km in Nigeria, and 643 km in Chad.
Thus, the trans-Saharan road is considered the largest structured project in Africa, linking 6 countries distributed over 3 of the eight economic groups of the continent, through which they are betting on doubling trade exchanges by land and reducing transportation costs, according to experts.
Experts expect it to open new horizons for Chad, Mali and Niger to access Tunisian and Algerian ports with great potential, especially with the near operation of the Hamdania port in Algeria.
On its importance to the countries of the group, Reda Tir, President of the National Economic, Social and Environmental Council, which is the highest advisory governmental body affiliated to the Presidency of the Republic in Algeria, stressed that “the Trans-Saharan road is a geostrategic project that will make our country the main northern gateway to the African market in the future, especially after completing the completion of a project.” The giant port in which works will be launched soon in the Cherchell area.
He also described the road in its main axis between the Algerian capital and Lagos, as a dream project, in order to achieve regional integration and economic integration, especially between the countries of the Maghreb, the Sahel and the West African community, in light of challenges that threaten the security and stability of the region.
For this reason, Algeria seeks, adds the President of the Council, to upgrade this road from a mere road facility to a real economic artery, especially with the entry into force of the Free Trade Agreement between African countries, after it was ratified by the Council of Ministers headed by Abdel Majid Taboun last May.
The Algerian official revealed in a statement to Al Jazeera Net that his country urged the ambassadors of the concerned countries, during the month of March, to expedite the development of a strategic agreement that defines a cooperation mechanism and a joint sustainable management system for this vital project.
He focused on the need to establish an economic forum and a mixed business council that brings together businessmen and political leaders of the six countries annually, in order to address the main economic and trade issues in the region, in order to enhance consultation and cooperation among them, regarding the challenges and stakes facing the region.
He explained that the road will soon be linked to the Chinese Silk Road through the Algerian port of Cherchell, which is one of the main stations within the Belt Initiative, which will make it in the future a transit area for European goods destined for the African market, given that land transport is less expensive than sea to reach sub-Saharan African countries. , As he says.
On the other hand, Mohamed Hamidouch, an expert with the World Bank, believes that the idea of the trans-Saharan road is primarily political rather than economic, with the aim of breaking the isolation from the Sahel countries and promoting trade between the north and south of the Sahara, where these six countries represent 27% of GDP. Africa, with a total of 25% of its population.
But it will still be necessary to establish legal systems specific to these countries, limiting them to international trade law, taxes and customs duties, and security systems for travelers and their goods along all the way, including migration flows, Hamidouch says.
As for guaranteeing the sustainable management of the road, according to the expert, it can be contained in the management body and the method of financing, resulting in an institution of an economic nature and covering maintenance and management works by vehicle owners, with an average price per kilometer (equivalent to approximately 7 cents – from the dollar – for light vehicles, compared to 21 cents for a heavy vehicle).
It is proposed to direct the collected amount, representing 12% for services, 19% for collection, 35% for network modernization, 10% as profits, and the rest is part of exploitation.
In the event that the road continues to be financed administratively, that is, through taxes indirectly, and it is free for residents and foreigners in transit, its cost, according to the expert Hamidouch, is equivalent to each Algerian citizen 65 US dollars to complete it, in addition to 50 dollars annually for its management, or 240 dollars as a tax for each institution Economical used or unused road, knowing that the well-known criteria is that the road network is to be financed by 20% by foreign vehicles.
Since it is the political nature that dominates in the management of the road, due to the absence of real knowledge of the foreign trade markets of these countries, Algeria may bet on its management and maintenance through levying.
Thus, when oil revenues improve, the road is maintained, and in the event of the opposite or the emergence of other spending priorities, it will end, especially in the far south, according to the World Bank expert.