Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and Transport projects financed by the African Development Bank (AfDB) in 2016 would have a positive impact on the living conditions of close to 20 million Africans over the next few years.
The AfDB made this forecast in the Annual Report of the Infrastructure, Cities and Sustainable Development Department of the AfDB, published on June 9, 2017.
The report cites US$ 1.6 billion as the total amount of loans and grants provided by the Bank in transport and ICT in 2016.
This amount is allocated to 15 countries to finance a wide range of projects such as international roads systems, railway lines, urban infrastructure and projects related to new ICTs.
It said with these new projects, the global portfolio of transport and ICT projects under implementation rose to 118 in 47 countries, cumulatively valued at US$ 11.8 billion.
Mr Amadou Oumarou, the Director of the Bank’s Infrastructure, Cities and Sustainable Development Department, said: “Transport and ICT play a pivotal role in the pursuit of the Bank’s five operational priorities, particularly in supporting industrialisation, regional integration, agricultural modernisation and the overall improvement of the living conditions of Africans.”
The report features the various projects using infographics and maps to help explain how each project is integrated into its specific geographic and economic context.
He said, for example, that the Trans-Saharan fibre optic backbone will connect Chad and Niger with their neighbours, strengthening internet access in remote areas.
This year, the approved projects will finance the paving of 1,120 km of roads and laying 2,060 km of fibre optic cable.
The document also describes the Bank’s holistic approach to financing each infrastructure project and measures designed to stimulate economic activity and improve the wellbeing of the people in the project areas.
The report, for instance, said: “A road project connecting Rwanda and Uganda includes launching a training programme for 1,600 women who make their living through cross-border trade, the construction of two markets near the border crossing and support to seven local associations.
“Also of note are projects to provide better access to isolated areas of Cameroon and southern Ethiopia, accompanied by strong support for agricultural development and construction of health and education infrastructure.
“The Bank’s role in 2016 has evolved in such a way as to emphasise urban mobility and the development of sustainable cities.”
The report cites the creation of a “Cities and Urban Development” division which would assist the Bank in tackling challenges posed by Africa’s rapid urbanisation.
The past year was marked by significant infrastructure projects in Accra, Abidjan, and Kampala amounting to over 500 million dollars, an unprecedented bank investment in the urban transport sector.
The projects reflect how the Bank accompanies its partners and clients, especially in capacity building. The 2016 operations include the training of 250 local staff and administrative managers.
It said in the long-term the Bank was committed to financing the elaboration of local, national and multinational infrastructure development strategies including the establishment of an urban development plan for Accra and the creation of an agency dedicated to coastal protection in Togo.
Others are to design a development plan for Lake Victoria involving three neighbouring countries and coordinating preliminary studies for the construction of a highway corridor between Abidjan and Lagos to connect the five countries.
In doing so, the Bank would strengthen the level of expertise and coordination of its member states’ administration thereby opening the way for future development projects.