Niger/Benin – West Africa’s Niger and Benin has finalised the terms of a deal to start construction of a 574 km railway connecting the Benin port of Cotonou with the Nigerien capital of Niamey.
According to law firm ENS, confirmation of the Benin Niger railway deal follows the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Nigerien president Mahamadou Issoufou and President Thomas Boni Yayi of Benin in November 2013.
The railway line is to connect with the 2 800 km-long West Africa Regional Rail Integration project launched in November 2011 to link landlocked countries (Niger and Burkina Faso) with seaports (Abidjan, Cotonou, and Lomé).
The project is estimated to cost USD$1.6 billion. Sitarail, owned by French company Balloré Group, will provide the majority of project financing and own a 40% stake in local operator BENI rail.
The governments of Benin and Niger will hold a 10% stake each, while local private investors own the remaining 40%. Construction to extend railway track in Cotonou began in April 2014 and the line is expected to carry cargo comprising 80% freight – including agricultural, livestock, mineral products and 20% passengers.