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PRESS RELEASE

World Bank Boost to Niger for Renewable Energy and Irrigation Projects

May 29, 2014

WASHINGTON, May 29, 2014 – The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors has approved US$55.20 million from the International Development Association (IDA)* to help Niger combat recurring drought and chronic food and power shortages. The funds support the Kandadji Project and will provide water and irrigation for agriculture, renewable energy, and jobs to benefit the mostly rural people living in the Niger Basin.

Today’s additional funds (comprising of a credit and grants) will support financing of the Kandadji Project which marks a critical step towards improving the livelihoods of Niger’s population and those living in the nine countries that share the Niger River Basin.  Frequent drought and flooding in the Basin have threatened food security in this extremely poor region.  The approval increases the size of IDA’s financing of the Niger Basin Program from US$203 million to US$258 million.

“Today’s additional financing demonstrates a strong commitment by the World Bank to the Kandadji Project,” said Paul Noumba Um, the World Bank Country Director for Niger.  “It has the potential to transform the Niger River Basin in West Africa by boosting agricultural development for food security, improving rural incomes and expanding energy supply throughout the region.”

The Kandadji Project is one phase of the larger Niger Basin Water Resources Development and Sustainable Ecosystems Management Program, designed to boost regional cooperation, development and sustainability of water resources management in the Niger River Basin. The project includes the Kandadji dam, a hydropower plant and transmission line. Additionally it will support community-based local development activities for people being resettled, long-term development of facilities to supply irrigation water to 45,000 hectares in Niger Valley and catalytic measures to establish an agribusiness growth pole for increasing incomes and trade.

The new IDA funds support the Kandadji Project power plant – a source of renewable, clean energy that is critical for poverty reduction in the region.  The power plant will significantly increase renewable hydropower energy by up to 130 megawatts, helping families and youth to develop income generating activities for lifting themselves out of poverty.  Today’s funds also support technical assistance to strengthen project implementation, coordination and oversight arrangements through the Niger Basin Authority.

“The Kandadji Project will deliver clean, low-cost hydropower and optimize development impact for Niger and the entire Niger River Basin,” said Jamal Saghir, World Bank Director of the Sustainable Development Department for the Africa Region“The project’s focus on securing a new source of renewable electricity will boost access to social services, improve health and education, and help establish new economic opportunities needed to end poverty and boost shared prosperity in Niger and beyond.”

The Project responds to the priorities set by The African Caucus and the Kinshasa II Declaration issued on August 2, 2012, which called for boosting African agricultural productivity through the development of integrated regional projects, and strengthening energy power pools for regional impact.  The project will be implemented using strong international environmental and social safeguards.

“Kandadji Project’s infrastructure will support poverty alleviation by bringing electricity to homes and businesses, and improving the management of the Niger River to enhance environmental flows in dry season and ensure reliable municipal water supply for Niger’s capital city Niamey,” said Catherine Tovey, the World Bank Task Team Leader for the project“We look forward to the continued steady implementation of this project so that it can deliver development benefits across the wider Niger Basin countries.”

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PRESS RELEASE NO:
2014/527/AFR