Angola: World Bank says reconstruction programme is critical

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

JOHANNESBURG, 7 July (IRIN) - A 423 km road trip from Luanda, the Angolan capital, to the central province of Malanje takes 13 hours - underlining the need to rehabilitate the shattered infrastructure, according to World Bank representative Laurence Clarke.

"The road was very, very bad ... 13 hours gives you a sense of just how bad the road was," explained Clarke, who recently completed the bone-jarring journey.

The World Bank has been implementing the first phase of its Emergency Multisectoral Recovery Project in Angola, and Clarke expects the total budget for the project to reach between US $200 and $250 million. The Bank will contribute $150 million, with the Angolan government and donors making up the rest.

"The project would be completed in two phases: one phase has already been approved by our board for $50 million; the second phase should begin later this year, or early next year, and the Bank will release $100 million to cover a number of activities in six provinces, including Malanje," Clarke said.

The money will cover upgrading of the main access routes and secondary feeder roads, improving the water supply system and reconstructing "one or two bridges".

These reconstruction programmes were critical to areas like Malanje, "as it's basically an agricultural province", where residents would benefit from better access to markets and agricultural inputs via improved road networks.

Water supply programmes were already underway, and the upgrading of roads and bridges are to form part of the projects second phase.

"There's also a possibility there could be some schools and health services and so on - this project is covering reconstruction in general ... the electricity grid is going to be extended and refurbished, and a number of other social services [will be extended] here and there, and some capacity building [will be done] in institutions related to those sectors," Clarke noted.

The first phase of the project was funded by a combination of grants and soft loans from the Bank, while "the second phase is likely to be completely grant money".

"It's a major priority for our strategic response in the next two to three years," Clarke said, "and there are probably going to be one or two other smaller projects, but this is the centrepiece of the Bank's programme [to assist Angola's recovery from decades of war]."


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