Bank Group Set to Fund Infrastructure Projects in Africa

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The African Development Bank (AfDB) Group has mobilized US$1.6 billion to finance various infrastructure improvement projects across Africa. The projects, which are mainly concentrated in transport and energy sectors, will help provide the continent with modern, world-class infrastructure, Dr. Ini Urua, Acting Manager, NEPAD Division, said while speaking with the press in Addis Ababa at the end of the African Union summit which took place from January 29-30, 2007.

Dr. Ini Urua, said the bank had already financed 33 different projects across Africa, totaling US$800 million under the New Partnership for Africa`s Development (NEPAD) initiatives.

"The Bank has reformed itself to be able to push the African agenda forward, a new vice presidency for regional infrastructure and regional integration has been created to advance infrastructure development and look into issues of regional integration," Mr. Urua said.

The Bank is also ready to support the construction of the Kenya- Uganda oil pipeline this year once an agreement is signed with a winning bidder for the intergovernmental project between Kenya and Uganda, he added.

AfDB has completed plans for the launching of the construction phase of the Kenya-Ethiopia highway, extending nearly 1,600km from the port of Mombasa to Addis Ababa, as a means of enhancing transport and communication in the East African region.

"The Bank supports regional infrastructure very strongly, the regional and cross-border (NEPAD) projects may have taken longer to rollout, but this is because it takes time to conceive such projects and develop them," he explained.

The Bank Group has mobilized additional finances to bolster Africa`s push for better roads, electricity and is currently working on the launch of a major financing initiative to dispense more financial resources to African countries under a G8 initiative.

In the first of a series of projects covering Africa, the AfDB, which receives funds from major bilateral and multilateral financial institutions, plans to finance a Kenya-Zambia electricity connectivity project this year, Mr. Urua explained.

"We want our partners to work with us collectively on issues which affect the continent; the important thing we are telling Africa is that we are helping to finance regional initiatives and our interests remain the development of Africa," he added.

AfDB offers concessional and non-concessional resources to African countries seeking to expand their infrastructure. The Bank is currently looking to financing science and technology projects on the continent in line with NEPAD’s goals of enhancing growth through science. The G8 has helped the Bank Group to set up and host the Infrastructure Consortium for Africa (ICA) Secretariat to facilitate the scaling-up of resources for infrastructure and address Africa’s capacity constraints.

"Our role is to ensure that resource commitments made to Africa are realized," Mr. Urua explained, adding that the Bank was ready to finance a series of major projects on the continent, with the energy sector constituting a top priority.

Kenya and Ethiopia are also working on a joint electricity power grid, which is currently on its final leg following the launch of the power plant last week in Addis during the AU summit.

"We will finance the Kenya-Ethiopia inter-connectivity. These are things which are happening. We will also link Tanzania on the Kenya- Zambia code," he concluded.

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