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PRESS RELEASE

WB Supports Road Improvements and Maintenance in Ethiopia

February 19, 2014

WASHINGTON, February 19, 2014 – The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors today approved funds to help Ethiopia upgrade the country’s road system, strengthen road maintenance and reduce travel time along inter-regional corridors.

The Road Sector Support Project is supported by a US$320 million IDA credit* as part of the $US385 million total project cost. The government of Ethiopia will contribute $US65 million. The project aligns with Ethiopia’s Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP) and supports economic expansion by improving the quality of roads serving areas producing exportable agricultural products. By helping secure access to all-weather roads, the project will also help Ethiopia achieve its goal of halving the proportion of the population living below the poverty line.

“Ethiopia has experienced strong economic growth and has achieved substantial progress on social and human development over the past decade,” said Guang Zhe Chen, World Bank Country Director for Ethiopia. “Upgrading and maintaining the country’s road sector is an important part of our work in Ethiopia. Today’s project will help to enhance trade, create new markets, and provide improved access to education, medical services, and food security to the country’s poor.”

The Government of Ethiopia formulated the first phase of the Road Sector Development Program (RSDP) in 1997. Since then, the size of the road network has increased from 26,550 kilometers to 85,966 km, and the roads operating in good condition has risen from 20 percent to 70 percent. Today’s funds will build on these accomplishments and will be used to upgrade about 258 km of the Nekempte – Bure road, which provides an important link between the Oromia and Amhara regions. The upgraded road will help to reduce travel time and facilitate the marketing of wheat, vegetables and other agriculture crops.  

The project also aims to enhance Ethiopia’s road asset management practices by supporting the maintenance of selected roads covering about 200 km; the Government will fund a further 200 km of road under a parallel financing. The funds will also be used to provide technical assistance to strengthen road asset management capacity, and prepare a road asset management strategy.

“Today’s project will benefit women and children by providing them with improved access, access to much needed education and medical facilities, including pre and post-natal care,” said Tesfamichael Nahusenay Mitiku, World Bank Task Team Leader. “Improved road conditions will also reduce the time that women spend transporting products to market, and will bring new opportunities for employment within small-scale, road-side commercial operations.”

At the center of the new operation is the adoption of an Output and Performance Based Road Contracting (OPRC). The road asset management system is expected to reduce the whole-life cost of road infrastructure, provide increased budget certainty for investment and recurrent expenditures, and improve the quality and sustainability of the network for road users.

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