Washingtondc, — The World Bank's Board of Executive Directors today approved US$125 million to finance transport and trade improvements in the Central African Republic (CAR).
The funds will support the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC)'s Transport and Transit Facilitation Project, a regional program designed to improve commerce and connect Cameroon, Chad, and CAR to local and global markets by reducing transit bottlenecks along two key corridors: Douala - N'Djamena and Douala - Bangui.
"Efficient transit logistics are indispensible for the landlocked countries in the region (CAR and Chad) whose main business centers are at least 1,500 km away from the nearest port in Douala-Cameroon," said Elizabeth Lule, World Bank Manager of the Regional Integration Department in the Africa Region. "The project will help improve intra trade regionally and promote market integration but will also enable CAR to become a player in international markets."
The new financing package consists of a US$123.4 million credit and US$1.6 million grant from the International Development Association (IDA)*, the Bank's fund for the world's poorest countries. The funds will scale up road rehabilitation works along the Douala - Bangui corridor within CAR and ensure all-season access between the two major cities. It will equally fund both road safety and transit facilitation activities which are critical for trade facilitation along the said corridor.
The Douala - Bangui corridor is one of Africa's key roadways supported by IDA as part of its 2010 Regional Integration Assistance Strategy for Sub-Saharan Africa (RIAS). CEMAC's ultimate objective is to upgrade at least 90 percent of the Douala - Bangui corridor by the end of 2015.
"Poor road conditions and closures in the rainy season increase transport time and costs in the CAR.", said Gregor Binkert, the World Bank Country Director for CAR, "This project will scale-up road rehabilitation works along a key transport corridor and connect Bangui in landlocked CAR to the port city of Douala."
The rehabilitated roadways will benefit CAR, one of the world's poorest countries, by linking its main business centers to ports located at least 1,500 km away in Douala-Cameroon. The improved road conditions will cut vehicle operating costs and travel time costs. Transporting a 20-ton container between the Douala - Bangui can take between 15 and 28 days because of frequent road closures in the rainy season.
"The project will support periodic maintenance and upgrading works on selected sections of the corridor, such as rehabilitation of the Bouar-Baoro road and two bridges," says the two Task Team Leaders of the project, Nicolas Peltier-Thiberge and Peter Taniform. "We look forward to effective implementation of this important project that will have positive sub-regional inputs."
* The World Bank's International Development Association (IDA), established in 1960, helps the world's poorest countries by providing loans (called "credits") and grants for projects and programs that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor people's lives. IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world's 81 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa. Resources from IDA bring positive change for 2.5 billion people living on less than $2 a day. Since 1960, IDA has supported development work in 108 countries. Annual commitments have increased steadily and averaged about $15 billion over the last three years, with about 50 percent of commitments going to Africa.