Czech - Ghanaian Chamber of Commerce


Dr. Martin Luther King’s words reflected in my mind when I heard Chinese President Xi Jinping speaking at the Silk Road forum to revive trade route between China, Asia, Europe and Africa.

These words “I have a dream” are not about China and neither have anything to do with Dr. Martin Luther King.

My dream is a “silk route” type of super highway directly connecting Ghana / West-Africa with Europe via Ceuta/Cadiz.

Recently some friends of mine drove from Holland to Ghana in a 4×4, taking 2 days to reach Ceuta (a Spanish enclave in northern Morocco) in 30 hours they covered 2,460 km. Cadiz Spain and Ceuta are connected by regular ferry crossings and between 35 minutes and 1 hour you can reach the other continent.

From Ceuta to Accra they used 11 days driving to Accra on a distance of 2,760 km.

In other words, if there would have been a comparable road between Ceuta and Accra they could have reached Accra in 33 hours.

That means a truck with 2 drivers taking shifts can drive Accra – Amsterdam in 63 hours plus waiting and crossing time Africa – Europe (Ceuta-Cadiz) total 72 hours or 3 days.

Just imagine there would be a highway with very limited entry points in: Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Ghana, Ivory-Coast, Southern Mali close to, Guinea and Senegal into Mauritania and through Morocco direct to Ceuta.

The connecting countries can make this a duty free visa free highway straight to Europe. The largest trade partner of Ghana is Europe and the European Union is trying to shift its attention on west-Africa from aide to trade and especially pushing for agricultural development in west-Africa.

Agricultural goods for export from west-Africa are now because of costs restraints limited to two ways of transport: Air and Ship.

Shipment of fruits, vegetables etcetera is only feasible for agricultural products with a long shelf life.  Air transport is limited to goods with high value because of its high costs of transportation.

This highway can open Europe for exports of many agricultural goods like tomatoes, green peppers, aubergines and other high volume low costs products from west-Africa to Europe.

For Europe it would mean much cheaper ways of exporting to west-Africa than their far-Eastern competitors and on top of 75% less duties in the future that would enhance EU competitive position enormously.

The EU is offering compensation to ECOWAS countries that sign the regional EPA. Wouldn’t support to this highway be a perfect compensation for us to enjoy Free Market Access to the EU on a large scale?

Roughly this African “silk road” would cost 450,000 Usd per km (source ADB) so “our silk route” would cost 1.242 billion USD. Lets simply calculate that all toll boots and entrance points (visa, license, transport documents points would cost an additional 250 million USD that would make the total costs of our Trans-Europe Highway roughly 1.5 billion USD. If the EU would pay 500,000 USD as a grant to compensate for revenue losses because of the signing of the EPA between EU and ECOWAS that would leave 1 billion to finance my dream: the Trans west-Africa highway to Europe.

My highway would create new and cheaper export opportunities for 12 West-African (ECOWAS) countries. I think financing 300-500 million USD should be feasible for them. The World Bank or African Development bank could finance the rest.

Naturally this highway would be a toll way, and the toll should be able to pay-back the loan from ADB or World Bank.

Unfortunately this is just a dream, my dream, but wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could realize my dream?

Nico van Staalduinen

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