Algeria’s massive East-West highway project is expected to cost $3.6 billion. The highway will cover some 1216-km. To date, only 49-km have been completely finished and made available to circulation, 86-km are still under construction, and 155-km are planned for completion in 2000-2001, reported El Moudjahid> and La Tribune, both Algerian French daily newspapers.
At a presentation in Algiers organized by Algeria’s national highway agency, it was divulged that the project should take between 15 and 20 years to complete at a cost of $180 million per year. This amounts to the completion of 50-km to 60-km of highway being brought into circulation per year.
Financing for the project is a major issue. The federal government believes that the highway represents a future milestone in the economic expansion of the country and thus justifies the expenditures. One idea being considered is privatizing the project and the best solution would be a Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) type contract with contractors in the private sector. South African and Australian groups have come forward and made bids on the project.
Several international development banks have provided loans to the government including the European Investment Bank (EIB), the African Development Bank (ADB), and the World Bank. The World Bank has already made a 500 million Algerian Dinar (AD) commitment, sponsoring a 100-km section of the highway. Similar arrangements are expected to be made with both the EIB and ADB. Later in the month a project assessment is to be completed and a report issued from Paris. — (Albawaba-MEBG)