- The government of Benin has signed loan and grant agreements worth a total of US$ 76.85 million to finance three larger projects in the country. The projects include the Djougou-Ndali road improvement project, the second rural electrification project and a poverty reduction strategy support programme.
The African Development Bank (ADB), which earlier had approved of the loans and grants, this week hosted a signing ceremony at ADB headquarters in Tunis. Beninese Minister of Finance and Economy, Grégoire Laourou, went to Tunis to represent his government.
- The operations that will be achieved thanks to this funding fall under the implementation of Benin’s poverty reduction strategy and the priority interventions defined by the Bank for 2002-2004, recalled ADB Vice-President Olabisi Ogunjobi, who urged the government of Benin to "accelerate the implementation of these projects in order to improve the utilisation of these resources."
In his response, Finance Minister Laourou commended "the quality of the participatory approach defined by the Bank in identifying, evaluating and implementing the projects it funds in its member countries."
The three projects for which the funding agreements were signed include major infrastructure investments in Benin. A total of US$ 76.85 million is to finance the Djougou to Ndali road improvement project, a rural electrification project and a poverty reduction strategy support programme.
The Djougou-Ndali inter-state national road improvement project was approved by the African Development Fund (ADF) and the Nigerian Trust Fund (NTF) on 22 July 2003 for a total amount of US$ 22.45 million. The Djougou-N'dali road forms part of the inter-state national roads that link Togo, Benin and Nigeria, (Kara - Ouake - Djougou - Ndali - Nikki - Chicandou - Nigerian border).
With the improvement and asphalting of the two major North-South roads (Cotonou - Savalou - Djougou - Porga - Burkinabe border and Cotonou - Parakou - N'dali - Malanville - Nigerien border), the upgrading of feeder roads linking these two has become one of the major objectives for opening up the sub-region and its integration.
The project is also to include the conducting of awareness campaigns on environmental protection, road safety, sexually transmitted diseases, AIDS and malaria.
Finally, it includes the drawing up of route plans on 250 km of earth roads and preparation of tender documents for the works; the maintenance and improvement of 250 km of feeder roads and the works inspection and supervision. Other associated works involved are the sinking of 40 equipped boreholes based on a participatory strategy and the refitting of site buildings to be transferred to communities.
The loan to finance the second rural electrification project was approved by the ADF on 29 October, to the tune of US$ 18.31 million. This project is part of the rural electrification development programme developed by the government of Benin with the medium-term objective of sustaining the increase in electrification to a rate of 29 percent in 2008.
The programme's long-term objective is gradually providing least cost electricity to all by reinforcing and extending electric power grids, as well as promoting public lighting in towns and villages. The project will thus involve the electrification of 57 areas, and the installation of a local wooden poles processing plant.
Finally, the first poverty reduction strategy support programme was approved by the ADF on 10 December. It includes a loan of US$ 34.61 million and a grant of US$ 1.49 million, totalling US$ 36.1 million. The goal of the programme is to support growth and sustainable development with a view to improving the living conditions of the population and achieving poverty reduction.
According to ADB, "the implementation of the programme will provide sustainable and more equitable economic conditions to the most disadvantaged population groups through a sound, effective and transparent management of public expenditures."
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