EIB lends Algeria $162 million for infrastructure schemes
The European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Union's financing institution, approved three loans, totaling €165 million ($16 million), to Banque Algיrienne de Dיveloppement (BAD) for various infrastructural schemes, considered vital for the country's economic activity. The promoter of the projects is the Algerian Ministry of Public Works.
Some €45 million of the funds will benefit reconstruction projects on a series of priority infrastructural works, damaged by the disastrous flooding of November 2001. The project focuses on urgent rehabilitation of a five kilometer stretch of the Frais Vallon 2x2-lane urban road (Bab Al-Oued—Chevalley).
It will also be directed towards construction of a rainwater drainage canal serving western Algiers, including temporary repair followed by permanent strengthening of the Mustapha Jetty in the Port of Algiers and urgent rebuilding of five bridges on the RN 11 and CW 101 roads destroyed by landslides in the Wilaya of Chlef to the west of Algiers.
The works are of top priority for avoiding lasting disruption of economic activity in Greater Algiers, the country's main center of activity, stated to an EIB press release. The goal is to restore urban road traffic flows in the area, while allowing the continuation of activity in the capital's port.
The loan ties in with ongoing EIB solidarity towards European Union (EU) partner countries stricken by serious natural disasters—the bank set up a specific €600 million facility for reconstruction in Turkey after the autumn 1999 earthquake and advanced loans following flooding in Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Romania.
A further €50 million were allocated for the road network in Greater Algiers. The project encompasses various priority improvements to the main fabric of the Algiers road system with a view to meeting steadily increasing demand for road travel (+5.3 percent per annum) stemming from the inflow of people into the capital, the difficult terrain and the absence of a well-developed public transport system.
The scheme involves boosting the capacity of three major interchanges on the capital's ring road—Place Addis Abיba, Place du 1er Mai and Place Chevalley—and constructing underpasses at a number of the most congested crossroads in the Algiers urban road network. When progressively completed, the works will significantly improve the quality of urban life and reduce pollution, while fostering the development of the capital's social and economic activity.
A €70 million loan was forwarded for the Bouira—Al-Adjiba section of the East-West Motorway, the initial stage of the trans-Maghreb motorway also under construction in Morocco and Tunisia. This new 26 kilometer stretch will serve to resolve substantial congestion, pollution and road safety problems affecting traffic on the RN 5 in a mountainous area to the east of Algiers.
The loan follows on from earlier EIB financing, worth €246 million in all, for three sections of the East-West Motorway designed to eliminate bottlenecks near leading cities—Blida, Algiers and Bouira—on this strategic route carrying the bulk of traffic for the Algerian economy.
Despite the difficulties, which have surrounded construction of the stretches financed previously, the EIB is continuing to back implementation of the East-West Motorway in the light of its crucial importance for the Algerian economy and its potential role in providing a regional interconnection with Morocco and Tunisia, one of the priority objectives of EU action in the Mediterranean Partner Countries.
In 2001, EIB lending in the Mediterranean Partner Countries (MPC) reached a record €1.5 billion, confirming the position of the EU's financing institution as a major player in the economic development and stability of the region in which it has been operating since 1974.
In the wake of the Barcelona European Council (March 15-16, 2002), the EIB is set to step up its cooperation with the MPC by establishing a Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership Facility (EMIPF), along with operational offices in the region.
The EMIPF, scheduled to enter into effect in autumn 2002 and associating the beneficiary MPC in the shaping of its activity, will enable the EIB gradually to expand its annual lending in the region from €1.5 billion to two billion euro.
In qualitative terms, the EMIPF will attach initial priority to private-sector projects with the dual aim of liberalizing the economies of the MPC and harnessing their potential with the Customs Union in prospect between the EU and the MPC by 2010.
The EIB's goal is to increase to 33 percent the share of private-sector ventures in relation to overall financing. The EMIPF will also place emphasis on social-sector projects, especially in the fields of health, education and environmental protection, stabilizing factors in promoting the emergence of productive investment. — (menareport.com)
© 2002 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)