Olivier Monnier and Baudelaire Mieu

A planned commuter train for Ivory Coast’s commercial capital of Abidjan will cost as much as e1 billion (R14.5bn) to build and will be ready in 2020, according to the nation’s ministry of transport.

The 37.5km route would cost e800 million to e1bn and would transport about 300 000 passengers a day in the nation’s most populous city, Noumory Sidibe, a technical adviser to Minister of Transport Gaoussou Toure, said last week.

France’s Bouygues, South Korea’s Hyundai Rotem and Dongsan Development agreed to preliminary terms for the project earlier this month.

“The traffic in Abidjan is unacceptable,” Sidibe said. “The train will aim to ease traffic and will be the backbone of the urban transport and city planning policies.”

Ivory Coast’s population has risen 27 percent in the past 10 years to 23 million people, according to the US Census Bureau. Abidjan, the former capital, is a port city located on the Gulf of Guinea.

President Alassane Ouattara is targeting investment in highways, roads and ports to sustain annual economic growth above 10 percent. The largest producer of cocoa is emerging from a decade of unrest, which included a failed coup in 2002 that split the country in two and led to a civil war and a post-election crisis in 2010 that left at least 3 000 dead and resulted in a bond default.

Ivory Coast would sell $500m (R5.2bn) in eurobonds by the end of next month to fund other projects, Prime Minister Daniel Kablan Duncan said last week.

It is the country’s first debt sale on international markets since the default in 2010. The yield on the dollar bond due in December 2032 dropped by 2 basis points to 6.68 percent by 11.02am in London yesterday.

The Abidjan train would be fully funded by private companies, Sidibe said.

France’s Keolis, a unit of state-owned Société Nationale des Chemins de fer Français, would operate the train that would link up Anyama in northern Abidjan to the international airport located in the southern neighbourhood of Port-Bouet, Sidibe said. Another section linking Abidjan’s western neighbourhood of Yopougon and Bingerville, a town to the east of Abidjan, would be built later, he said.

The concession agreement would be signed before the end of the year and construction would start in April next year, Sidibe said.