News Column

WB Agency to Finance Regional Infrastructure Projects

July 7, 2014

Eric Kabeera

The International Finance Corporation (IFC) has committed to finance the proposed regional infrastructure projects that are aimed at easing the transportation of goods and services to boost trade within the EAC.

In an interview with The New Times, Dr Jin-Yong Cai, IFC chief executive, said they are waiting for regional governments to finalise the negotiations and come up with the estimated cost required to implement the projects.

"There are several projects under discussion like the railway line and oil pipeline. We are looking at these projects with interest, we want to first establish the final specifications in terms of financing (before committing)," said Jin-Yong, who is also the executive vice president of the institution.

Jin-Yong was in the country, last week, to, among others, open the trading of the corporation's bond on the Rwanda Stock Exchange.

He said it was still early to estimate the actual amount that the World Bank's financial arm will allocate, adding they will still have to wait for the final financial specifications from the northern corridor finance ministers.

A subsidiary of the World Bank, the IFC offers investment, advisory and asset management services to encourage private sector development in developing countries.

Infrastructure for mineral exports:

Finance and Economic Planning minister Claver Gatete said last week that regional countries like Uganda and Kenya were exploring minerals and oil, which he said will require established infrastructure to transport the products.

"We don't expect any roadblock or any trade barrier if the railway line is implemented, it will ease the movement of goods and reduce the cost of doing business among the partner states. We are optimistic about the projects, that's why IFC is here to work with us to achieve these projects," Amb. Gatete said.

The standard gauge railway that will connect Kigali to Mombasa port via Kampala is envisaged to be completed by March 2018 at a cost of $13 billion.

Finance ministers from Rwanda, Kenya and Uganda convened in Kigali last week to discuss financing mechanisms for the projects.

The oil pipeline will transport crude and other petroleum products from Eldoret, Kenya, to Kigali.

Uganda's permanent secretary in the ministry of foreign affairs, Amb. James Mugume, said it was still a challenge to finance the projects.

"Meeting the implementation deadline remains a challenge. We are talking about multi-billion dollar projects. This is a lot of money anywhere and we need to be sure that we finance these projects at a cost that is viable," he said.

Speaking to the The New Times, Joseph Nyagah, the Kenyan national coordinator of the Northern Corridor Integration Projects, expressed optimism that financiers would come on board.

"We should not be afraid, that's why we are doing it as a region, to pool the funds which will make it easier than doing it as a single country... what we need is to ensure that if we borrow funds, we should be able to use it properly so that the debt is paid off," he said.

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Source: AllAfrica

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