Gabon has officially begun work on the 780km "Transgabonaise" highway that will bisect the country from west to southeast.Â
The $1bn project is being procured as a public-private partnership, with the help of finance from French investment fund Meridiam.Â
It is intended to improve communications inside Gabon and with neighbours Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea and Congo-Brazzaville.Â
The project will be built by by the Société AutoroutiÃ¨re du Gabon (SAG), which is owned by Meridiam and African infrastructure funder Arise Investments. SAG will operate and maintain the road over a period of 30 years.
The project was declared open by Prime Minister Rose Christiane Ossouka Raponda on Friday.Â
She commented: "President Ali Bongo said this project will be complete in 2023, so the government will follow its construction very closely."
Most, but not all, of Gabon is connected to a road network, much of which is unpaved, and which centres on seven national routes identified as N1 to N7.Â
The Transgabonaise will cross six of the country’s nine provinces, and will replace sections of the N1 and N3 roads, which have been overwhelmed by traffic.Â
Work on the project been due to start in July 2020 but was delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.
Photograph: Much of Gabon is connected to a road network, most of which is unpaved (Judgefloro/Public domain)