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It was in Congo that Donald Kaberuka, President of the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group, began his official visit to Central Africa, on February 24, 2014. Scheduled for four days, the visit concludes in Libreville, Gabon, on February 27.
During his audience with the President of the Republic of Congo, Denis Sassou Nguesso, in Brazzaville, Kaberuka was able to judge for himself the country’s recent economic performance. This included, in particular, the level of investment which is among the highest on the continent.
In addition to meeting the Head of State, the AfDB President was keen to meet members of the Government who are at the heart of Congo’s economic recovery. These were the Ministers responsible for the following: Industrial Development and Promotion of the Private Sector, Transport, Mines, Forestry Economy, Energy, SMEs, Social Affairs, Special Economic Areas, Technical Instruction, and Planning and Integration. It was an opportunity for systematic consideration of the various projects in the AfDB portfolio for the country, along with sectoral views and an explanation of the Bank’s strategy in Congo.
“Central Africa must catch up in terms of regional integration,” Kaberuka stressed. In his speech to members of the Congolese Government, he added: “The AfDB believes strongly in regional projects. Road and river infrastructures must therefore be developed in Congo in order to strengthen trade with neighbouring countries and to allow the emergence of a viable market, as well as the economic diversification that we all want.” On numerous occasions during his speeches, the AfDB President repeated that it was still necessary to ensure the effectiveness of investments.
Central Africa must deal with numerous challenges, as must the rest of the continent. During this visit to Brazzaville, emphasis was on regional integration and the development of infrastructures. Kaberuka was proud to present the Africa50 Infrastructure Fund. This is a new funding structure, on a commercial basis, proposed and developed by the AfDB. It was inspired by the Bank’s recent successes in the field of infrastructure. This fund was created in response to calls from the African Heads of State in 2012. In their declaration regarding the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA), the Heads of State had invited suggestions for innovative solutions to facilitate and accelerate the creation of infrastructure and, consequently, regional integration.
As such, the Africa50 Infrastructure Fund is intended to mobilize both public and private funding, thus creating a new platform for African growth. It is targeting three main groups of investors: the AfDB and similar organizations that fund development, along with institutional investors.
It was also within the PIDA framework that the AfDB granted a loan of US $152.3 million in December 2013. The purpose of the loan was to fund the first phase of the project to build the Ndende-Dolisie Road, linking Gabon and Congo. The project involves repairing and paving the missing sections of the Libreville-Brazzaville corridor. The aforesaid corridor represents the provision of 274 km of main road, of which 144 km will be paved.
The AfDB is also involved in a project to build a railway bridge over the River Congo, linking the capital cities of the Republic of Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Brazzaville and Kinshasa, respectively. The distance between them is 4 km. Such a structure would provide Kinshasa with communication links to the deep-water port of Pointe-Noire via a single railway line. The AfDB is working in Congo in various fields: infrastructure, agriculture, water, sanitation and energy.