The African Development Bank (AfDB) and the African Development Fund (ADF) have approved two billion U.S. dollars to fund infrastructure projects in the East African Community (EAC) over the next three years. The funding for the implementation of new and on-going priority infrastructure projects in the region was disclosed by EAC Secretary General Ambassador, Libérat Mfumukeko.
This move will also accelerate regional integration through joint infrastructure development and covers regional transport connectivity, energy infrastructure, ICT connectivity, and management of trans-boundary water resources, according to the EAC boss.
“The bank will also support projects aimed at accelerating implementation of the EAC single market, trade development including tackling of non-tariff barriers, and putting in place policy frameworks for industrialization and the regional promotion as single investment destination,” said Ambassador Mfumukeko.
Landing the deal was tough as other Regional Economic Communities (RECs), such as the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) were all competing for funding from the continental bank, the ambassador revealed.
“Given this scenario, it is now evident that our development partners have restored their faith in us, we are looking forward to mobilizing more resources for development projects in our region”, the ambassador said, noting that it was worth and gratifying to note that in 2018, the EAC Secretariat had reached a new record of resources mobilized within one year.
The EAC is not new to acquiring funds from the continental development partners. So far, the region has emerged as a big beneficiary of donor-funded development projects on the continent.
In 2017, the AfDB revealed that it had spent about $6.2 billion in its 50-year history on roads in the region. Additionally, in partnership with the World Bank, AfDB has funded key projects in aviation, roads, railways, energy and water sectors in the region.
This has seen more than 7,500 kilometres of roads paved. Kenya has received $1.78 billion which saw 1,720 km of roads paved; Tanzania has received $1.58 billion and paved 2,230 km of roads, while Uganda received $870 million, paving at least 930 km.
East Africa is the fastest growing region on the continent. With a real GDP growth rate of 5.9 per cent in 2017, compared with the continental average of 3.6 per cent, the region is expected to enjoy sustained economic growth.
But its economies are characterized by low levels of industrialization and countries in the region have been grappling with poor infrastructure, power shortages, low electricity connectivity and a high cost of power for manufacturing.
The construction of a transnational highway, which connects Tanzania and Kenya’s coastal cities, is set to begin in the first quarter of 2019. The key stretch which is about 450 kilometre-long is expected to cross the Kenyan border and pass through Tanzania. The move is touted to be a major milestone in terms of trade and above all raise the standards of the transport and energy sectors in both countries.
The funding programme also covers Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Seychelles, Somalia, and Sudan.