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Prospects for the construction of a 9,022-kilometre strategic Trans-Sahara Highway (TSH) linking several African countries was concretised on Wednesday, 11 December 2013 in Tunis following the approval of US$ 184.79 (UA120.37)* million by the Board of Directors of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB).
The project involves construction and asphalting of 565 kilometres of roads linking the main axis and the Chadian branch of the TSH; construction of a 543-meter-long bridge on the River Niger at Farié, with 3 kilometers of access roads, and the construction of infrastructure to ease transport and transit at the Algeria/Niger and Niger/Chad borders.
The project aims to facilitate overland trade and regional integration between the Arab Maghreb Union (AMU), Economic communities of West African States (ECOWAS), Economic community of Central African States (ECCAS), in general, and Algeria, Niger and Chad, in particular. The project's specific objective is to improve the TSH's overall level of service and the living conditions of the inhabitants of the project impact area.
Designed to put infrastructure at the centre of economic, social, political and security stakes of the continent, the highway is located on the Algiers-Lagos and Dakar-Djibouti trans-African corridors identified by the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) as priority projects for achieving New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) objectives by 2020.
The project is expected to: (i) improve TSH service level and increase traffic and trade between North Africa, West Africa and Central Africa; (ii) reduce the cost of transport and logistics; (iii) improve the living conditions of residents of the project area and their access to basic social services (drinking water, schools, health units, etc.); and (iv) contribute to the overall improvement of security in the Sahara region.
THS is part of PIDA's priority projects to connect African capitals and major cities. It fits with the transport sector policies and vision of ECOWAS, ECCAS, WAEMU and CEMAC. The project is in line with the AfDB’s strategy papers for the countries concerned. It is also consistent with pillar 2 of the AfDB’s Ten-Year Strategy, 2013-2022 which aims, among others, to provide affordable access to reliable electricity and transport infrastructure, as part of inclusive growth. The TSH is one of the major trans-African corridors promoted by the African Union Commission as the backbone of the continent's NEPAD-led development in which the AfDB plays a leading role.
Target beneficiaries of the project include users of the TSH, and in particular, residents of the project impact area which spans 4.4 million km², with a population of 60 million inhabitants in Algeria, Tunisia, Mali, Niger, Chad and Nigeria.
The Bank’s support comprises (1) ADF loans amounting to UA 20.90 million for Chad and UA 58.98 million for Niger, (ii) ADF grants amounting to UA 20.40 million for Chad and UA 20.09 million for Niger. In Algeria, the project will be financed entirely by the Government, through the public investment budget, for an estimated UA 12.76 million, to be raised in 2014.
The project will be implemented over a period of 60 months at a total cost of US$ 585.53 (UA 381.40) million. The Bank Group's contribution stands at UA 120.37 million, or 31.56% of the total project cost. Other donors are the Islamic Development Bank, Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA), Development Bank of Central African States (BDEAC), The Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED), Saudi Fund for Development (SFD), OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID) and the Governments of Algeria, Niger and Chad.
*UA 1 = US$1.53521 as of 12 December 2013