The World Bank has approved $190 million for regional operation to finance transport and transit improvements in Ghana, Burkina Faso and Mali.
The financing package consists of three International Development Association (IDA) credits of $70 million to Burkina Faso, $80 million to Ghana and $40 million to Mali for a West African Transport and Transit Facilitation project, according to a statement from the World Bank office in Accra.
The three-country project supports the NEPAD (New Partnership for Africa's Development) transport agenda of trade corridors without borders and barriers, which aims at facilitating trade and promoting economic integration in the sub-region.
The transport sector in West Africa plays a key role in the economic development of the sub-region and generates about six per cent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Transport and transit costs for landlocked countries such as Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger are 50 per cent higher than for countries with direct access to the sea.
These high transport and transit costs translate into high prices of goods for consumers and loss of external competitiveness.
The project is consistent with the objectives of the World Bank's Regional Integration Assistance Strategy for West Africa which focuses on the creation of an open, unified, regional economic space, as a means of creating an environment for a more competitive and efficient private sector.
It will also help remove formal and informal barriers to intra-regional trade and contribute to increased trade within the sub-region, and between the sub-region and the rest of the world.
The project will improve access by Burkina Faso and Mali to Ghanaian ports, as well as improve port operations and facilitate the efficient movement of traffic along the Tema-Ouagadougou-Bamako road transport corridor.
It is also expected to strengthen economic integration of the member countries of the WAEMU/Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) bloc.