MANILA, PHILIPPINES - The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved $754 million in assistance to rebuild Afghanistan's shattered road and rail network, bringing to more than $1.7 billion the amount it has contributed to reconstruction of the country's infrastructure over the past decade.
The multitranche financing facility (MFF) approved by ADB's Board of Directors on Tuesday will upgrade hundreds of kilometers of priority roads and fund construction of new facilities to complement the recently completed train line connecting the northern hub of Mazar-e-Sharif and Uzbekistan.
"Infrastructure links the new mineral centers to markets, creates jobs, improves trade, and - perhaps most importantly - provides Afghans with a sense of hope for the future," said Juan Miranda, ADB's Director General for Central and West Asia. "With the development of modern road, rail and energy networks, Afghanistan is poised to reap the benefits of its strategic location and become a pivotal crossroads for trade and commerce in the region."
ADB is one of Afghanistan's largest development partners, having funded flagship projects including the country's first railroad; major portions of the 2,700-kilometer Ring Road connecting its cities; and long stretches of transmission line bringing a regular supply of electricity to Kabul from neighboring Uzbekistan.
The $754 million MFF will fund improvements to 600 kilometers of roads - some 7% of the total national and regional highway network - as well as new tracks and stations between Mazar-e-Sharif and Andkhoy. A $33 million cofinancing grant from the Afghanistan Infrastructure Trust Fund, with contributions from Japan and the United Kingdom, will be administered by ADB.
ADB's focus on Afghanistan's transport and energy networks will enable the country to fulfill its role as a key player in the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) Program, the 10-country partnership that promotes the implementation of regional projects in energy, transport, and trade facilitation.
Established in 2001, CAREC brings together Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, the People's Republic of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. To date, member governments, ADB, and other international financial institutions have approved over 100 CAREC-related projects worth about $16 billion.
These focus on six land transport corridors that cover 3,600 kilometers of roads and 2,000 kilometers of railway, traversing the CAREC region and linking Europe, East Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, and beyond.