Ivory Coast Table of Contents
Construction on the Abidjan-Niger Railroad (Régie du Chemin de Fer Abidjan-Niger--RAN) began in 1905 and continued through 1954. The single, one-meter-gauge track extended northward from Abidjan through Ferkessédougou into Burkina Faso and terminated at Ouagadougou. Its total length, including the portion in Burkina Faso, was 1,180 kilometers. Through the early post-World War II period, the RAN contributed significantly to the development of agriculture and forestry in the southeast and central regions of the country. Following the opening of the Abidjan port in 1950 and the upgrading and expansion of the road network, the RAN became primarily a long-distance hauler. Except for points located directly on the rail route and for bulk transport, rail transport was no longer important to the south and to the center of the country. Nevertheless, the RAN was still considered crucial to economic development in the north; accordingly, new industries were situated along the rail line.
The RAN was also important to the landlocked countries to the north. At one time, it carried 90 percent of Burkina Faso's foreign trade and half of the 50 percent of Mali's foreign trade that passed (via Bobo Dioulasso in Burkina Faso) through the seaport of Abidjan.
In the 1980s, economic recession in Côte d'Ivoire and Burkina Faso, and political instability in the latter, confronted the RAN with financial and administrative problems, deteriorating equipment, and debt. These problems were caused in part because Burkina Faso did not pay its bills for five years, accumulating arrears amounting to CFA F17 billion. For political and economic reasons, the two countries agreed to liquidate the RAN and divide its assets, estimated in 1987 to be CFA F78 billion in rolling stock, railroad stations, buildings, and land.
Côte d'Ivoire had planned to construct a 350-kilometer railroad to link the port city of San-Pédro with iron ore deposits near Bongolo in the west-central region of the country. But because prices in the 1980s for iron ore were low, the government scrapped plans to exploit the deposits and build the railroad, which would have cost an estimated CFA F80 billion in 1986.
Data as of November 1988