On February 15, Cameroonian Minister of Public Works Emmmanuel Nganou Djoumessi and Francesco Pauselli, General Manager of Italian construction company SEAS, signed a contract for the construction of a road that will connect Cameroon’s southern provinces to the neighboring state of Gabon. The signing took place in Yaoundé, the country’s capital, at the presence of Italian Ambassador Marco Romiti.

A road construction site in Cameroon

The signing marked the beginning of phase one of the construction works, during which the Italian company will build a 70km road that will link the village of Olounou, located 190km south of Yaoundé, to Oveng, about 30km from the border with Gabon.

The project, the cost of which is about XAF67 billion (UD$124 million), involves the pavement of an already existing dirt track. Over the course of 24 months, SEAS will build a two-lanes road, 59 cross drainage structures and 13 bridges of various lengths for a total linear length of 260m, as well as set up horizontal and vertical traffic signals. The agreement also includes technical and geotechnical controls, the construction of an automatic toll station, a weighing station, and a counting station.

mario giro
Former Deputy Minister Mario Giro

Italy had initially expressed its interest in financing the project in February 2017, during the Italy-Cameroon Business Forum held at the fringe of the Salon Promote international exhibition. On that occasion Mario Giro, then Italian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, had signed a memorandum of understanding relating to the building of the Olonou-Oveng road. According to the memorandum, SEAS planned to carry out the work together with engineering firm Italferr, part of the FS Group, and Leonardo-Finmeccanica group. Andrea Bruschi, who at the time represented SEAS, told InfoAfrica: “For us, this agreement is very important: it opens up a door to a country that we didn’t know, and this therefore a success”.

The project is part of the Triennial Emergency Plan for the Growth Acceleration (PLANUT) that, among the other things, aims at increasing the country’s paved road network portion, from the current 10% up to 17%, by 2022. The building of the Olonou-Oveng road will help reducing the isolation of the province’s production areas, making it easier to transport agricultural products to the big transformation and distribution centers and promoting international trade and exchanges with Gabon, with positive effects on the income of local producers.