SANA’A, June 2, 2014 – The World Bank announced today a US$133.54 million grant to support the Government of Yemen’s ambitious plan to connect the northern and southern parts of the country with a 710 km highway. The largest ever infrastructure project in Yemen’s history will play a vital role in the country’s transition by targeting the root causes of instability, such as lack of access to economic opportunities and poor national integration, and rebuilding the country’s social and economic base.
“This is more than just a road project, it will make a significant contribution to future stability and growth,” said World Bank President Jim Yong Kim from neighboring Saudi Arabia, where he is on the first stop of a four-day visit to the region. “Development is essential right now in Yemen and across the region to give meaning to political achievements and show what peace can deliver – which is why we are mobilizing resources and building partnerships to support more of these transformational projects.”
The grant will finance the construction of the first, critical section of the highway. The Bank’s Corridor Highway Project, combined with a parallel US$320 million project financed by the Saudi Fund for Development, will build 140 km of road linking the port city of Aden with Taiz. This initial stretch of highway will connect two areas of the former South and North Yemen, bridging one of the country’s main political fault lines, and cross three governorates where one fifth of the country’s poor are located. The Bank’s Corridor Highway project is expected to be completed within three to four years, and create around 4,000 jobs (the equivalent of 1.28 million person/days of work). The large-scale construction will also offer opportunities for Yemeni contractors and the providers of various goods and services. In addition, the project will include training for the Ministry of Public Works and Highways to expand their capacities to manage the new highway.
“Yemen has outgrown its old road network and badly needs new infrastructure that will help it grow and solidify its unity,” said Engineer Omar Abdullah Al Korshomi, Yemen’s Minister of Public Works and Highways. “Our aim is to establish an effective road network that will support the country’s transformation. We are laying the foundation by implementing the first stage of the Saa'dah to Aden Yemen International Corridor Highway, which will connect the extreme north and south, link 8 governorates, and serve, directly and indirectly, almost 15 million people, while expanding the benefits of internal and international trade.”
Once complete, the new highway will boost domestic trade by facilitating the movement of people and goods. By linking the port of city of Aden with the interior, and ultimately Yemen with Saudi Arabia and beyond, the highway will be a catalyst for international trade. Rural populations will be better connected to key services located in urban centers. The construction of the highway will also include a duct for laying a new fiber optic cable that could become the foundation for Yemen’s new information highway. While focused on the building of the first section between Aden and Taiz only, the project will also prepare the technical studies needed for the other sections, to help attract the funding for the completion of the entire Saa’dah to Aden highway corridor.
With the launch of the Corridor Highway Project, the Bank has allocated 100 percent of the additional US$400 million pledged to Yemen in support of the transition. It brings the total value of the Bank’s portfolio of projects in Yemen to about US$1.15 billion, funded by grants from IDA, the Bank’s arm for the poorest countries.