The Aborted West African 2,700km Railway of Development and Growth (3)

On 7 April 2014, the very first railway station in the history of Niger was inaugurated in Niamey, putting an end to the country’s 80-year wait.

It was also the first Nigerien plank in the ambitious project to build a west African rail loop over 2,700 km in length linking the political and economic capitals of Abidjan, Ouagadougou, Niamey, Cotonou and Lomé.

To celebrate this event, Mahamadou Issoufou, the President of Niger, was in attendance, alongside his counterparts from Benin, Thomas Boni Yayi, and Togo, Faure Gnassingbé, and Vincent Bolloré, the CEO of the Bolloré Group, which has operated in Niger since 1962, and is the strategic partner of this large-scale project.

To grasp the enthusiasm stirred by this historic day, a quick history lesson might be necessary. It was in the early 20th century that the construction of a railway starting in Ivory Coast and ending in Niger was first planned.

Work began on a first section linking Abidjan in Ivory Coast with Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso in 1903, but it stopped 500 km short of Niger. Another section, designed to link Cotonou and Niamey, began several years later in 1910. It reached Parakou in Benin, but not Niger.

The relaunch of the Cotonou-Niamey project (with the opening of Dosso station on 18 December 2014) is more than just a symbol: it is an opportunity to complete this railway line of crucial importance to Niger’s development and growth. The railway line will, among other things, open this landlocked country up to the sea via its connection to the larger rail loop.

Niger began to write one of the most important pages in its industrial and human history last spring.

Since ground was broken officially on 7 April 2014, construction work on the 140-kilometre Niamey-Dosso section of the rail loop had progressed at an exceptional pace. 

To drive progress on the project, undertaken entirely by the Bolloré Group working alongside Nigerien companies, five The Niger railway line: a reality being constructed every day.

Since ground was broken officially on 7 April 2014, construction work on the 140-kilometre Niamey-Dosso section of the rail loop has progressed at a very high pace. Undertaken entirely by the Bolloré Group working alongside Nigerien companies, work began on five excavation sites at the same time as work on seven civil engineering structures (bridges and level crossings). Every effort is being made to ensure that the railway line is built within the shortest possible timeframe.

The Bolloré Group’s teams are working on three separate fronts to monitor progress first-hand. They have rolled out intensive training courses in railway trades so that skills are transferred to the more than 800 Nigeriens who every day work directly or indirectly on the project, particularly in the two sleeper production units in Niamey and Dosso.

This constitutes a real technical achievement for the contractors of Niger, who are building a railway line for the first time. This innovative project is also a source of value creation. BlueSolutions technology developed by the Bolloré Group delivers, thanks to the Lithium Metal Polymer (LMP) battery, a constant, self-generated supply of electricity to areas previously cut off from the grid.

Bluezones build close to Niamey and Dosso railway stations will offer Nigeriens facilities delivering free access to electricity, clean water, an unlimited internet connection, new technology, e-learning courses, leisure activities, and opportunities to start small trade and agricultural businesses.

The new railway line will offer a real lifeline and source of hope to the towns and villages along its route, enabling them to benefit from a range of social initiatives in the fields of healthcare, education, agriculture, etc.

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