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Guinea Seeks Technical Assistance, Budget Support From AfDB

By on March 27, 2011

AFTER being sworn in as Guinea’s democratically elected president three months ago, Alpha Conde, during the week, engaged international financial partners, with the African Development Bank as the first port of call.

According to a statement made available to The Guardian by the Media Relations Department of the AfDB, President Conde was at the bank’s Temporary Relocation Agency in Tunis to seek budget support, as well as assistance in capacity building, especially for Guinea’s mining operations.

This comes as the bank, 10 days ago, signed six loan and grant agreements, amounting to €303 million with the Government of Morocco. Morocco’s Economy and Finance Minister, Salaheddine Mezouar and AfDB Regional Director, Nono Matondo Fundani, co-chaired the signing ceremony in Rabat.

The agreements include a €300 million (3.4 billion dirham) investment loan to the national railway company—Office National des Chemins de Fer (ONCF)— to finance a major upgrade of the Tangier-Marrakech rail link.

The ONCF project is part of an ongoing national development strategy in the country’s transport sector, which includes upgrading and modernising infrastructure and transport services to increase Morocco’s economic competitiveness. The project will be implemented from 2011 to 2016 and aims to strengthen the rail infrastructure to meet the growing annual passenger and goods traffic on the Tangier-Marrakesh axis. Annual passenger traffic on the line is expected to increase from 16 million in 2010 to nearly 23.5 million from 2016.

AfDB has, so far, committed a total of €8.6 billion in Morocco. The Bank’s current active operations portfolio in the country is about €2 billion. The portfolio is dominated by the infrastructure sector—including transport, energy and water and sanitation—and ??governance.

Conde was quoted as saying that he decided to make AfDB his first point of contact in view of the fact that the bank had remained a reliable partner to Guinea.

“The African Development Bank has stood steadfastly by us as a partner in development in very trying times,” the Guinean President said, “and for this we are very grateful.”

Guinea is currently grappling with over 20 per cent inflation rate as well as serious infrastructure deficits consequent upon which President Conde is seeking AfDB budget support, as he tries to “turn around his country’s economic fortunes and put it on a path to growth and sustainable development.”

Specifically, he highlighted investment in the energy sector as one of the areas of greatest need, explaining that the Guinean Government would want to avail itself of the bank’s expertise and technical assistance in the negotiation of mining contracts, as this was an area in which capacity building was required.

Conde, who requested an AfDB office in Conakry to facilitate the continued partnership with the country, said his vision for the country was for it to play its destined role by being pivotal in the establishment of the Organisation of African Unity and other African institutions over the years.

During his one-day visit, the Guinean Head of State also met members of the AfDB’s Board of Directors.

President of the AfDB, Donald Kaberuka, in his response to the Guinean Head of State, said: “We are deeply honoured that Your Excellency would visit the African Development Bank first.

“It is a testimony to the confidence reposed in our institution, which has always remained a reliable partner in Guinea’s quest for growth and development.”

Source : Guardian