ADB ready to fund NEPAD infrastructure projects in Africa

Addis Ababa- Ethiopia (PANA) -- The African Development Bank (ADB) has mobilised US$1.
6 billion to finance various infrastructure improvement projects across Africa, mainly concentrated in rail, road and energy sectors, a senior bank official affirmed Tuesday in an exclusive interview with PANA in Addis Ababa.
ADB's Principal Industrial Engineer, Dr Ini Urua, said the bank has already financed 33 different projects across Africa, totalling US$800 million under NEPAD (the New Partnership for Africa's Development) 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 look into issues of regional integration," Urua told PANA.
ADB 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 way of enhancing transport and communication in the Eastern Africa region.
The Bank is also ready to rollout 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, Urua disclosed in the interview.
"The bank supports regional infrastructure very strongly, the NEPAD projects may have taken longer to rollout, but this is because it takes time to conceive such projects and develop them," he explained.
Speaking on the eve of a decision to delay the integration of the NEPAD projects into the African Union (AU) taken by a high-level Summit of the NEPAD leaders implementing committee, Urua warned against what he termed as the "dramatisation of the issue.
" "When NEPAD was conceived, the beautiful thing they did was to use existing institutions to develop its programmes," Urua said, pointed out the role ADB has played in driving economic renaissance in Africa.
The ADB, he said, was given the mandate to work with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa on economic cooperation and corporate governance.
Donald Kaberuka, former Finance Minister of Rwanda, heads the bank as its president, who has initiated vigorous efforts to strengthen the bank and reform it internally.
African leaders have given the bank a strong mandate to run the institutions created under the arms of the AU, which continues with its modernisation initiatives.
The bank has mobilised additional finances to bolster Africa's push for better railways, electricity and is currently working on the launch of a major financing initiative to dispense more financial resources to African countries under a Group of Eight (G8) initiative.
In the first of a series of projects covering Africa, the ADB, which receives funds from major bilateral and multilateral financial institutions, plans to finance a Kenya-Zambia electricity connectivity project this year, Dr Urua revealed.
"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 are very low," he explained.
ADB offers concessional loans to African countries seeking to expand the road infrastructure in their countries.
The bank is now looking into financing of science and technology projects in the continent in line with NEPAD's goals of enhancing growth through science.
The Group of Eight has helped the bank to set up and host a new division, the Infrastructure Consortium for Africa (ICA) to address Africa's capacity constraints.
The Secretariat began operations in 2006 with key focus on priority areas as agreed during a summit of the world's richest countries who agreed in 2005, to scale up financing resources to spruce up Africa's dwindling road, rail and energy infrastructure.
"Our role is to ensure that resource commitments made to Africa are realised," Urua said.
He said the bank is now ready to finance a series of projects, giving the energy sector its top priority.
"The private investor for the Kenya-Uganda pipeline is ready to roll, a concessional agreement would be signed soon.
We are financing the Mombasa-Moyale (Kenya)-Isiolo-Addis road," he reiterated, affirming that funds are ready for the project.
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.
"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 emphasised.

30 january 2007 16:46:00

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