Tunisia: AfDB Approves US$ 263 Million for Road Project

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Tunis, 11 June 2008 – Efforts by the Tunisian government to provide the country with efficient transport infrastructure were highly commended on Wednesday in Tunis by the Board of Directors of the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group which approved a loan of 162.5 million Units of Account (UA*), equivalent to US 263.4 million (TND 307 million) to finance the Bank Group’s fifth Road Project in the country.

The Road Project V aims at improving the level of service of the classified (trunk) road network with a view to intensifying intra-and inter-regional trade and improving the accessibility of the country’s principal development poles.

It will focus on: (i) Road upgrading (by-passes for the towns of Beja, Jendouba, Sidi Bouzid, M’Saken-Est at Sousse and El Hamma at Gabes, and modernization by creating dual carriageways on the GP6D section at Beja, on the GP2 between Enfida and Kairouan and the GP3 –Fahs to Zaghouan); (ii) rehabilitation works on a total of 374.1 km of paved roads; (iii) reinforcement works on 640.4 km of paved roads; (iv) construction works on 14 highway structures on the classified road network.

The project area covers 19 of the country’s 24 Governorates, including 11 Governorates in the northern region (Bizerte, Tunis, Ariana, Ben Arous, Nabeul, Manouba, Zaghouan, Beja, Jendouba, le Kef, and Siliana), 5 Governorates in the central region (Sousse, Monastir, Mahdia, Kairouan and Sidi Bouzid) and 3 in the southern region (Sfax, Gabes, Medenine).

Most of Tunisia’s population lives in the northern and central regions which has a total of 651.8 km of roads to be modernized and strengthened (47%) and 9 highway structures to be built (64%) followed by the southern region with 497 km (36%) and 3 highway structures (21.4%) and the central region with 233.8 km (17%) and 2 highway structures (14.3%).

The project will benefit the entire country’s population, particularly the inhabitants of the north-west (Beja, Jendouba, Kef and Siliana), centre (Sousse, Mahdia, Monastir et Kairouan et Sidi Bouzid) and the south-west (Gabes et Medenine) where inadequate basic infrastructure, particularly roads in the Governorates of Sidi Bouzid, Siliana et Kasserine and certain regions of the south, has been the cause of a slower rate of socioeconomic development in relation to coastal areas.

These areas, whose main activities are agriculture and mixed farming, and to a lesser extent industry and services, have the highest unemployment rates in the country (about 20% compared with 16% at the national level). The unemployed are mainly women and young graduates who are increasing in number and are compelled to leave their areas of origin and settle in the coastal cities in search of better living conditions. The planned rehabilitation works will help improve the infrastructure equipment rate and will contribute to opening up remote areas; improve living conditions with expected spillover effects of activities (agro-pastoral, industrial, tourism and handicraft).

The project is consistent with the strategy to upgrade the transport sector, formulated by the government since the previous five-year Development Plans aimed at promoting an efficient high quality transport system. The project forms part of investments planned for road infrastructure under the 11th Plan (2007-2011) and its implementation is consistent with the Bank’s operations strategy for Tunisia for the period concerned.

The estimated total cost of the project is UA 246.15, about US 399 million (TND 474.82 million). The Bank’s financing will cover 66% of the total project cost, while the government covers the remaining 34%.

The Bank Group’s operation in Tunisia commenced in 1968. To date, its cumulative commitments in the country stand at US$ 5.9 Billion (TDN 6.8 billion) in 98 operations.

* 1 UA = 1.62069 = 1.88920 TDN as at 11/06/2008

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