In keeping with these two articles of the EU regulation, the figure of a corridor coordinator is established to “facilitate measures to design the right governance structure and to identify the sources of financing, both private and public, for complex cross-border projects for each core network corridor.”
In a similar strategy, UNCTAD promotes trans-African road corridors as development tools for the continent’s countries. Although the efforts are mostly focused on the completion of often non-existent physical infrastructure, tools for corridor governance and management are nevertheless considered key to achieving the full implementation of regulations, policies, information technology, harmonization and simplification of information exchanges. All, it must be recalled, in a completely different political and social and economic development context from that of the European Union.
One of the corridors that UNCTAD is considering is the Cairo-Dakar corridor, which runs along the entire southern Mediterranean coast and part of the African Atlantic to the capital of Senegal. This road infrastructure is part of the Trans-Maghreb Multimodal Corridor, defined by the UMA in the 1980s and promoted by GTMO 5+5, which is the cornerstone for ensuring overland trade between the countries of the region. The efforts of the last few decades have considerably modernized the land infrastructure, and much of the road and rail network is now high-capacity. Nevertheless, important missing links must still be addressed – especially at the cross-border sections – for continuous infrastructure between the countries to be achieved. A more extensive modernization of the network of ports and terminals for modal interchange is also needed, since, despite the development of new infrastructure, some ports still lack the necessary infrastructure to manage current flows.
The modernization of this corridor’s infrastructure, as well as its operation, management and governance, is vital to the process of transforming transport in the Maghreb. Its development can largely ensure the capacity needed for the Maghreb countries to successfully tackle the decarbonization, digitization and adaptation processes already underway in the transport sector. Success in the adoption of these processes will depend on the optimal insertion of the Maghreb transport system into regional and global logistics chains and flows, especially those linking North Africa and the European Union. In this regard, it is essential to put into place adequate planning mechanisms that make it possible to establish the Trans-Maghreb Corridor as an infrastructure inserted on equal technical footing in other broader networks. Hence the need to conceive of the corridor as a planning and coordination unit for various measures affecting different spaces, scales, modes or technologies.
The challenges of achieving this conception of the trans-Maghreb corridor as a planning and coordination tool are considerable. For instance, unlike in the European Union, there is a lack of political integration amongst the Maghreb countries. But the challenges involved in effectively adapting the corridor to the new conditions required by transport are no less daunting. In addition to the uncertainty surrounding technological developments related to decarbonization, digitization and the effects and pace of climate change, the process will require financing that the countries are unlikely to be able to provide.