Our man in Brussels brings you the latest on contracts, projects and other important deals between the European Union and Africa.
Since 1990, one of the European Union's top priorities has been to support road building projects in ACP countries. Despite the controversy over some recent tendering procedures -- reported in February's African Business -- infra-structure creation remains a cornerstone of the partnership.
Guinea-Conakry is set to benefit from one of the largest projects ever financed by the European Development Fund (EDF). Both the government and the Commission have agreed to allocate ECU74.5m from the Sysmin funds (aimed at compensating the country for its losses from bauxite exports), to improve the country's road infrastructure. Three asphalted roads will be rehabilitated: the Mamou-Faranah road (187km), the Gueckedou-Seredou road (126km) and the road between Dubreka and Kilometre 36, near the capital, Conakry.
In addition, the project provides for the construction of three bridges, one on the Niger river, a second on the Fatala river and the third on the Tibola river. The project will also finance the maintenance of the asphalted roads, and will pay for feasibility studies to create better connections between the three neighbouring countries Mali, Senegal and Sierra Leone.
The main thrust of this project is to help the country to diversify its economy out of the mining sector and provide better communications for farmers. In addition, ECU5.5m will be spent on boosting the production of export crops and rice.
The EU is also funding an ECU23.4m project in Gabon which will involve upgrading a 57km asphalted trunk road between the towns of Lalara and Mitzig on the main road which links the capital, Libreville to the border of Cameroon. The focus will be on creating a local capacity to maintain the roads when the work is completed in three years rime. The idea is to ensure a sustainable project.
Special observation points will be set up to ensure that truckers do not exceed loading or speeding limits. These two factors are chiefly responsible for road surfaces breaking up rapidly. It is now accepted wisdom that there is not much point financing such projects if they cannot be maintained properly.
Continuing along the same theme is an ECU17.4m project specifically aimed at Malawi's road maintenance performance. According to an EU expert on roads...