On Wednesday 7th December of 2016 in Abidjan, the Board of Directors of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB) approved $57.6m grant and $35.3m loan (Approximately $92.9 million) to the Government of Ethiopia for the upgrading of 240km of gravel road sections to all-weather asphalt concrete surfaced road.
The road sections are in Oromia and in Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Region (SNNPR). The project will serve the population of 1.4 million living in 8 woredas (districts) and contribute to the transformation of rural economies and moving up the agricultural value chain.
The two road sections will connect the towns of Jimma and Chida (80km) as well as Sawla and Sodo 160km), facilitating access to remote hinterland to the main trunk road network and thereby provide social and economic opportunities in Addis Ababa and the rest of the country.
Both road sections are located in areas with high agricultural potentials, especially for coffee and sesame production.
“Because of this project, Sawla people will no longer be excluded from the mainstream social -economy. Faster travel on all-weather asphalt concrete road will open access to trading activities. Furthermore, this project will empower vulnerable women by improving their entrepreneurial skills and capabilities,” Project team leader Mumina Wa-Kyendo, outlined, explaining that “by converting the three housing project facilities to health and education amenities, the project will bring social services closer to the people.”
Also addressing the Board, AfDB’s Transport and ICT Department Director, Amadou Oumarou noted: “The investment highlights the integrated approach adopted by AfDB in line with the Bank’s Ten Year Strategy and the Ethiopia’s 5 year Growth and Transformation Plan II, which emphasizes transformative infrastructure development that adds value to agricultural production, marketing and logistics.” He also underscored that the program would contribute to the focus areas under Banks High 5s including agriculture, integration and social inclusion and will remove major hurdles to economic development.
Complementing the infrastructure project, the project includes activities such as enhancement of emergency response capacity of the Sawla Hospital, technical assistance program to train women in entrepreneurial skills and support them in trading, and capacity building in research and skills development at the Ministry of Transport and the Ethiopian Roads Authority on large range of topics such as transport sector policies, climate change and disaster management.
The investment is a new milestone in the Bank and the Ethiopian government’s bids to reinforce the spatial, social and economic inclusion of the population living in the southern regions of Ethiopia, where the Banks’s USD 1 billion transport portfolio has been invested.
For his part, the Director of International Financial Institutions Cooperation at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Cooperation of Ethiopia, Fisseha Abbera underscored the importance of infrastructure development especially roads that feature prominently in the country’s Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP) II. “Development of the road sector is very critical in facilitating broad based growth and the government appreciates the Bank’s continued contribution in this sector.”
The total cost of the project is USD 264.3M, co-financed by the Government of Ethiopia, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Nordic Development Fund (NDF).