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IFC INVESTS IN PRIVATE SECTOR ROAD-BRIDGE IN CÔTE D'IVOIRE


Brigid Janssen
Phone: (202) 458-4698
Fax: (202) 974-4384
E-mail: bjanssen@ifc.org


ABIDJAN, CÔTE D'IVOIRE, November 19, 1999—The International Finance Corporation, in collaboration with financing partners, will invest US$34 million in the first private transport infrastructure project in West Africa, involving the design, construction, maintenance, and operation of a toll road bridge over the Ebrié Lagoon in Abidjan.
The project, which will be implemented by Société Concessionnaire du Pont Riviera—Marcory S.A. (SOCOPRIM S.A), will include new access roads and a six-lane bridge, to be known as the Marcory Bridge. It will link the residential areas surrounding Riviera and the industrial and commercial zone of Marcory, easing heavy traffic congestion and reducing delays on two existing bridges. The new bridge will reduce costs and travel time for users and contribute to road safety and air quality.
At a signing ceremony in Abidjan with representatives of the Ivorian government, IFC Executive Vice President Peter Woicke said the project is a model for future private sector involvement in commercially viable and well-structured projects in this sector. He noted that the soundness of the project derives in part from IFC's experience in transport infrastructure and knowledge of environment and resettlement needs. Sensitivity to the residents in the path of construction and to the environment were key to finalizing the agreement, he said.
A resettlement action plan was drawn up on the basis of extensive public consultation with local communities as well as municipal and national authorities. The Government of Côte d'Ivoire worked with advice from IFC to organize the resettlement of 3,200 affected people, including the Blingué shantytown in the Cocody district, the mid-income residential areas in Marcory, and numerous smaller businesses along the access roads. The international non-governmental organization, CARITAS, managed relocation activities and local religious and community leaders mediated differences.
The project is sponsored by a consortium consisting of Bouygues, S.A.—a major French engineering and construction company that is active worldwide—and its subsidiaries, Bouygues Travaux Publics and Bouygues Batiments, as well as SETAO, its wholly-owned Ivorian subsidiary. The concession was awarded through competitive bidding in April 1997. SOCOPRIM S.A. will operate the bridge for 30 years.
IFC's financing consists of a loan to SOCOPRIM of up to FRF180 million ($29 million) and a subordinated loan of up to FRF30 million ($4.8 million), both for IFC's own account. The FRF922 million ($150 million) project is being financed in partnership with the African Development Bank, the West African Development Bank (Banque Ouest-Africaine de Développement), PROPARCO (the private sector lending arm of the French development agency, Agence Francaise de Développement or AFD), Bank Austria, and DEG (Deutsche Investitions und Entwicklungsgesellschaft, the German Investment and Development Agency).
The mission of IFC, part of the World Bank Group, is to promote private sector investment in developing countries, which will reduce poverty and improve people's lives. IFC finances private sector investments in the developing world, mobilizes capital in the international financial markets, and provides technical assistance and advice to governments and businesses.