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            july 19, 2018

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Ivory Coast starts Alstom rail talks


The Ivory Coast is in talks with French train equipment suppliers Alstom and Thales about taking part in a EUR1.4 billion (US$1.6 billion) urban-railway project to be funded by France, pushing out South Korean manufacturers that were part of the deal, reports Bloomberg.
The West African nation is about to amend an initial 2015 concession agreement for the project with a French-South Korean consortium known as STAR, and expects to sign a fresh deal with only French companies this month, Transport Minister Amadou Kone said in an interview. Talks will get underway with Alstom and Thales next week, he said.
"Alstom has positioned itself. Thales has positioned itself. But we're going to conduct discussions next week in Paris to definitively pick the companies," the minister said.
The 2015 agreement fell through because a consortium of four businesses - French firms Bouygues and Keolis, and South Korea's Hyundai Motor and Dongsan Development - 'failed to get financing, prompting the government to take control of the project, Mr Kone said. Bouygues and Keolis will stay in the consortium.
"It has become clear that the financial structuring didn't allow the consortium to mobilise the financing that was part of its commitments," Mr Kone said. "We negotiated with the Korean companies so that they accept to exit the group."
France agreed to fund the entire project as part of a EUR2 billion package of mainly concessional loans on the condition that the commuter line in Abidjan, the nation's biggest city with at least 5 million people, is built by French companies, he said.
The Abidjan Metro, as the line will be called, is the government's biggest urban infrastructure project since it completed a central toll bridge that has helped ease traffic jams in the city. The first line will span almost 38 kilometres (23 miles) and connect the northern neighbourhood of Anyama to the international airport in the south. A second east-to-west line will be constructed later.
"The train will completely reshape the city," Mr Kone said. "We're very happy to see the project finally happening. It's a very important project for the residents of Abidjan."
Construction should start at the end of next month and will take four years. Since Ivory Coast is due to host the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations soccer tournament, the government wants part of the commuter rail completed by 2020. The metro will be able to transport an estimated 530,000 passengers a day.

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