WASHINGTON, March 13, 2015 –The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors today approved a US$52 million International Development Association (IDA)* grant to help improve the safety, security and operations of Goma International Airport, the main international gateway of Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and a vital link to connecting this area to rest of the country and supporting the ongoing peace consolidation efforts.
Decades of conflict and frequent rebel control of the airport have taken a toll on its operations, but the most significant damage of the airport’s sole runway and taxiway resulted from the 2002 Mount Nyiragongo volcano eruption. Humanitarian aid, UN operations, and passenger and cargo transport have been constrained by the damaged airport and the non-compliance with basic safety and security standards.
“The geographic isolation of the landlocked Eastern DRC and the virtual collapse of transport infrastructure during decades of conflict pose a significant risk to ongoing peace efforts,” Ahmadou Moustapha Ndiaye, the World Bank’s Country Director for the DRC. “The project is committed to supporting efforts by the international community to break the cycle of conflict and fragility in Eastern DRC.”
Today’s financing supports the DRC Goma Airport Safety Improvement Project that will enhance the airport’s safety and security measures to meet international standards, and to improve its infrastructure capacity to the level prior to the volcanic eruption.
The project will fund the repair the airport’s runways, taxing apron, existing passenger terminal, and electrical system, as well as building of a control tower and equipment to upgrade air navigation. In addition it will complete the construction of the airport’s security fence and support airport rescue and firefighting services by providing the equipment as well as training for fire and rescue personnel.
It will also support the organizational development of Goma airport, share lessons learned with other key airports in DRC, reduce the risks associated with the volcanic activities in the area, promote interventions to provide social dividends to surrounding communities in this conflict-affected area, and ensure appropriate project implementation.
In the DRC, whose landmass is almost as large as the whole of Western Europe, transport is a key to increasing agriculture, improving trade, supporting mining growth, overcoming the economic and social barriers that isolate communities, and providing security throughout the country.
"A fully functioning airport will reconnect the people living in Eastern DRC to the rest of the country, stimulate private sector development, and enable trade to resume, which is crucial to stabilize the sub-region and end its isolation," said Mohammed Dalil Essakali, the World Bank Group’s Task Team Leader for the project.
* The World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), established in 1960, helps the world’s poorest countries by providing grants and low to zero-interest loans for projects and programs that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor people’s lives. IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world’s 77 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa. Resources from IDA bring positive change for 2.8 billion people living on less than $2 a day. Since 1960, IDA has supported development work in 112 countries. Annual commitments have averaged about $18 billion over the last three years, with about 50 percent going to Africa.