Eight West African nations have secured $19 billion worth of infrastructure projects at a conference held in the Gulf country of the United Arab Emirates.

The lion's share of the spending will go toward a $16 billion railway and road project spearheaded by Abu Dhabi's Trojan General Contracting, whose parent company Royal Group is owned by Emirati businessman and Abu Dhabi royal family member Tahnoon bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

The president of Benin described the the projects as "a Marshall Plan" for West Africa.

The investment forum held in the emirate of Dubai on Tuesday brought together the heads of state of the West African Economic and Monetary Union, which includes Benin, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Togo and Guinea-Bissau.