The railway system isn’t an infrastructure sufficiently developed throughout the whole African continent. Of course, there are railways across the continent, but these railways are not as used in Africa as they are in the most developed nations. The use of the metro, specifically, is an infrastructure that has not yet penetrated most African countries except the North African countries (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Egypt). Though, there is still an urban rail transit system in other African countries such as Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya, and South Africa. In the West African region, Nigeria is the only major country with an established urban rail transit system, and Ivory Coast decided to take on the challenge to build a metro system in Abidjan, its main city and economic power.
The Abidjan Metro, as the project is called “Abidjan Metro.” Why is this project important? Ivory Coast is the most advanced French-speaking country in West Africa. In 1987, Ivory Coast’s GDP per capita was less than $1,500. In 2023, GDP per capita is more than $2,500. The Ivorian economy is thriving. It was forecasted that income per capita will reach $3,200 by 2027. The Ivorian economy has been growing by 7% on average according to the World Bank data. Ivory Coast is ranked among the most profitable African countries to do business.
This project is important for two essential reasons. First, it will facilitate transportation across the city. Indeed, Abidjan is a very crowded city with more than 5 million people. This represents one-fifth of the entire Ivorian population. So far, the main means of transportation in Abidjan are by roads, which has created humongous road traffic. The use of the metro will free up road traffic, it will take people to their destinations much faster at a much lower cost. The Abidjan Metro will be able to carry more than 500,000 passengers a day.
The second reason is that this project creates massive employment for people across the West African region. Indeed, the Abidjan Metro is expected to create more than 2,000 jobs. West African French-speaking countries heavily rely on Ivory Coast for their economic activities. For example, Burkina Faso and Mali rely on Ivory Coast to export their goods to the outside world since they are both landlocked countries. They do not have access to the ocean, and therefore rely on Ivory Coast to be the middleman in their transactions. Many people from the neighboring countries come to Ivory Coast for employment and business opportunities. This then leads to an increase in the real output of the country per capita.
The Abidjan Metro has been in construction since 2017 and it is projected to be officially done by 2024 or 2025 at the latest. The railway project is a 37km-long elevated rapid transit network, which is being developed by French companies in coordination with the Ivorian government. The railway system is designed to connect the Anyama District to Port-Bouët District. Ivory Coast is asserting its economic dominance with this massive project. Its completion will increase immigration from the neighboring countries.