- Tourism, the mainstay of the economy of Zanzibar is likely to be the major beneficiary from a road project, which today has secured international funding. Four new bridges are to be constructed and five roads are to be upgraded, enhancing transportation for locals, local businesses and tourists on the autonomous Tanzanian island.
The Zanzibari infrastructure has become increasingly run-down during the last decades and already is limiting further investments in the promising tourism sector. Most of the main island's 120 kilometres of main roads were constructed before independence 40 years ago and maintenance has been occasional.
Now, local authorities are taking action. The African Development Fund (ADF) today approved a loan of US$ 24.86 million US dollars to finance the upgrading of roads in the island, according to an ADF press release. The total costs of the Zanzibari road project are set a US$ 27.63 million, of which 10 percent are to be financed directly by the Zanzibari government.
Zanzibar is an Indian Ocean archipelago forming the smaller half of the Tanzanian Union during the last 40 years. The tourist industry is the second largest on the island, only closely behind commercial agriculture. Thus, the current infrastructure project has focused on upgrading those roads most important for the further development of tourism on Zanzibar's main island, Unguja - commonly only known as Zanzibar.
The project consists of the construction of four bridges and upgrading of five gravel roads in five districts to asphalted concrete standard on a 6-metre wide carriage way with 1.0 meter to 1.5 meter wide shoulders on each side over a distance of 87.5 kilometres.
According to the ADB, the road project is also to involve capacity building support to the Zanzibari Ministry of Communications and Transport, as well as resettlement of people who would be affected by the constructions.
- The objective of the project is to reduce vehicle operating and road maintenance costs and improve road transport services in Unguja Island as well as enhance management of the road network, ADB says.
This, it is hoped, would "promote economic growth and poverty alleviation by providing least cost services in the road transport sector," according to the project's offical description.
While the ADF so far had invested relatively little in the infrastructure of Zanzibar, large investments have been made on the Tanzanian mainland. The Dar es Salaam government has borrowed a total of US$ 251 million from the ADF to construct major road connections. These roads provide links to neighbouring landlocked countries such as Zambia, with the construction of the Tanzam Highway, and Rwanda with the construction of the Rusumo-Lusahunga road.
Also mainland Tanzania is a major East African tourist attraction, with its prestigious Serengeti and Kilimanjaro National Parks ranging among Africa's most known and popular destinations. The mainland however counts on an even poorer infrastructure than Zanzibar due to the enormous extent of the sparsely populated Tanzanian hinterland.
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