The two-day Guinea-Liberia Integrated Railway Corridor conference ends in Monrovia, Liberia today with several decisions reached which will benefit both countries in trade enhancement, goods and services.
Liberia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dee Maxwell Saah Kemayah is the head of the Bilateral engagement with Guinea on this project, while Gesler E. Murray, Minister of Mines and Energy served as head of the Inter-Ministerial Committee under the ratified Implementation Agreement during the two conference in Monrovia.
While their Guinean counterparts including Ibrahim K. Kaba, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Guinea is the Head of the bilateral engagement with Liberia on this project, and Abdoulaye Magassouba, Minister of Mines and Geology, Republic of Guinea is the head of the Inter-Ministerial Committee under the ratified Implementation Agreement.
The Government and people of Liberia are expected to benefit from US$20 billion bilateral engagement for the development of a rail corridor to transport Guinean mining products via Liberia’s port infrastructure. An official Guinean government is in Monrovia for an international ministerial conference that is currently ongoing. The three-day forum is meant to facilitate the transport of agricultural products, people, goods, and services.
The agreement represents a legal, institutional and operational framework between the two countries, meant to secure the use of current and future infrastructure and/or transport services in Liberia by Guinean mining operators. It also facilitates the importation to Guinea by mining operators of goods used for mining projects in the neighboring country.
There are 9 members on the Inter-Ministerial Committee for each country
In 2019, the continent achieved a significant milestone with the entry into force of the African Continental Free Trade Area (“AfCFTA”) Agreement on 30th May 2019. This was accomplished in a timely manner through the strong, focused, and African decisive leadership. Private sector participation is critical to the attainment of the AfCFTA objectives, given its entrepreneurial and innovative approach to surmount challenges, agility to adapt and reshape business models to seize opportunities presented by the new emerging market and capacity to marshal financial resources at scale.
A key challenge to achieve these objectives, include the lack of adequate trade-enabling infrastructure in the continent. The African Development Bank estimates the railway infrastructure deficit to be between US$ 130 billion to US$ 170 billion per annum. Given the prevalent railway infrastructure gap, no institution can bridge this gap alone.
Development of railway infrastructure in West Africa has a rich economic, strategic, and political history. Discussions between the Republic of Guinea and the Republic of Liberia relating to regional integration vis-à-vis shipping of mining products through Liberia has been ongoing for the last 38-years.
It is against this backdrop that the Republic of Guinea, and the Republic of Liberia, are seeking to drive the use of railway infrastructure under the Implementation Agreement (IA) as conduit to establish a legal, institutional and operational framework between the two Governments to secure the use of railway infrastructure in Liberia by Guinean Mining exporters.
From the 09th to the 11th of June 2021, an inter-ministerial conference will be hosted by the Government of Liberia, in Monrovia. The conference will be attended by ministerial delegations from the Government of Guinea and other stakeholders, with the key objectives to define the way forward, including an implementation model and a Technical Secretariat which will oversee this railway programme.
The Project involves the implementation of railway infrastructure and operations of an integrated corridor between Guinea and Liberia, with the objective to significantly enhance the flow of tradeable goods and services along the two West African countries, and to seize opportunities presented by the new emerging market and capacity to marshal financial resources at scale. It is in light of this that the two Governments opted to prioritise and sharpen its focus in the railway sector and support interventions using this mode of transport to boost trade flows especially if the shortest route-to-market is utilised – even if that means crossing borders.