Friday, June 22, 2012

OFID approves $12M loan to Gambia for energy boost

OFID Ministerial Council and Governing Board meetings in Seefeld, Austria

The Governing Board of the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID) announced on Monday the approval of a $12 million loan for the Gambia to boost NAWEC’s electricity supply. 

The money meant to be invested in the Kotu Power Station is expected to provide the population, particularly unconnected communities, with an affordable and consistent supply of electrical power, OFID said on June 18. 

The announcement came in the wake of increased electricity tariff in the Gambia and amid growing inconsistency in the supply of electricity within the Greater Banjul Area.

OFID said “At least 500,000 people will benefit from the upgraded power station” which is being managed by the National Water and Electricity Company.
The new loan secured by the Gambia Government is one of 13 loans and grants totaling nearly US$66 million meant to boost socio-economic development in over 34 partner countries.   

The loans, which will cover the agriculture, education, energy, transportation and water supply sectors of the beneficiary countries, were issued at the end of OFID’s 139th Session in Vienna, Austria.

The Fund, managed by the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), also approves a $5 million loan for DR Congo for the “Development of Rice Cultivation in Masina.” The project is intended to help reduce poverty and boost food security through the expansion of an irrigation network and construction of agricultural infrastructure.
Around 10 million inhabitants residing near the capital Kinshasa will benefit from the project.  

A $7 million loan for the Republic of Guinea for a “Five Towns Water Supply” is intended to help alleviate poverty and improve living conditions for some 63,000 people through the construction of water supply infrastructure and installation of household connections. 

Another loan of $11.93 million for Mauritania’s “Aftout Al Chargui Solar Electrification Development” was also approved. The project is meant to supply around 100,000 inhabitants living in extremely impoverished areas with a safe and affordable supply of energy.

The “Masaka-Bukakara Road” project in Uganda also received $15 million loan from OFID. The project will upgrade the 40.6 km-long stretch, one of the primary means of mainland travel in the Kalangala District. On completion, OFID said it will enhance socio-economic development from the facilitated access to marketplaces and social infrastructure.

In Zambia, the Fund approves $10 million for “Three Technical Colleges.” The government of that country said it will provide higher education opportunities in three provinces, populated by some 850,000 people, where no universities exist.
“The colleges will be located in manufacturing and industrial centers, thus helping ensure the employability of the graduates,” the OPEC Fund confirms.  

Meanwhile, seven grants totaling almost US$5 million were also approved at the meeting. 

“One will support a joint programme with UNAIDS to scale up HIV/AIDS activities in 19 countries in Latin America and the Middle East and North Africa region, while another will co-finance Phase VI of a project that will provide assistance to 11 NGOs in Palestine,” OFID explained. “The Welfare Association will receive a grant in support of a youth employment scheme in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.”

Additionally, a food security program of the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas will receive funding to help around 10,000 people living in rural communities in Nepal and Bangladesh.

In line with OFID’s energy poverty alleviation activities, almost 800,000 people will benefit from three grants that will co-fund projects: of the Shell Foundation, which will provide solar lighting and safe cooking stoves for households in Ethiopia, Honduras, Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia; of Practical Action, to enhance energy access in under-served villages in Malawi; and, of the Global Village Energy Partnership, which will provide hydropower to communities in Nyundo, Rwanda.  

OFID said from inception, it has committed over US$14.1 billion in much-needed concessional development financing to 132 developing countries around the world, with priority given to the poorest amongst them.

Written by Modou S. Joof

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