The African Development Bank has agreed to finance an integration project meant to open up borders, to the tune of Sh350 million.
On Wednesday, the AfDB announced a grant of $3.5 million to the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad) for the project scheduled to run for the next three years.
Known as the Infrastructure Master Plan, the project will see Igad’s eight-member countries benefit in the designing of transboundary facilities that the bloc sees as important for regional integration.
The members include Kenya, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Sudan, Uganda, Somalia and Eritrea. Formed in 1986 initially to tackle effects of drought, the bloc grew both in size and mandate to be a forum for discussing other development issues such as cross-border trade, energy, transportation and migration.
But the regional bloc has suffered financial difficulties in implementing its projects, despite having very proficient plans on paper.
AfDB said this money has been given through its concessional window and will help Igad to come up with priority areas to develop in the region in order to promote further trade, movement of goods and persons and poverty alleviation.
“It will define priority regional infrastructure transport, energy, ICT and transboundary water projects for investment, to spur a broader positive socio-economic development impact,” AfDB said in a statement.
“These would include physical and economic integration; job creation; enhanced opportunities for women (particularly in easing cross-border trade); increased business opportunities; improved access to infrastructure services; and generally improved the quality of life of the majority of the population in the Igad region.”
Igad has not given specifics on which countries or particular projects it will start with. But the Plan is part of its ‘Minimum Integration Plan/Road Map’ adopted in 2010 to promote free trade in the region.
“In general, the governments, people, institutions, and economies of the eight Igad member States will benefit directly from the project.
“Specifically, businesses, traders, households, investors as well as development partners and international bilateral and multilateral agencies will also benefit from well-planned coordinated regional infrastructure projects and services that would enhance more efficient movement trade and economic development,” the Bank added.
Set to last 38 months, the total project could cost $3.69 million, according to the AfDB Igad will have to raise the balance of $0.19 million, meaning either member states or other donors will have to fill the gap.