Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Zambia: Arab Bank Gives Country $8 Million Loan

THE Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA) has given Zambia a US$8 million loan for the rehabilitation of feeder roads in the rural areas of the Copperbelt Province.

Finance and National Planning Minister, Ng'andu Magande signed the loan agreement on behalf of the Zambian Government while BADEA board chairperson, Yusuf Bessam signed for the bank.

This is according to a statement from the Zambian embassy in Washington made available in Lusaka yesterday by Information and Broadcasting Service Permanent Secretary, Emmanuel Nyirenda.

The loan, with an annual interest rate of one per cent, is to be repaid over a period of 30 years, including a grace period of 10 years.

At the signing ceremony, Mr Magande paid tribute to BADEA for the loan and said the existing relations between Saudi Arabia and the Bank of Zambia remained strong.

Mr Magande said because the Copperbelt was diversifying into agriculture, there was need for the province to invest in a good road network for its rural population.

The project would cater for civil works and the reconstruction of 210 kilometres of gravel roads, consultancy services for the preparation of a detailed design and supervision of the construction.

The minister also appealed to the bank to consider funding other projects in the education, energy and health sectors.

Zambia's ambassador to the United States of America, Inonge Mbikusita-Lewanika and the Zambian delegation to the 2008 annual International Monetary Fund (IMF)/World Bank meetings witnessed the signing ceremony.

BADEA's funding to Zambia stands at $91.01 million

Mr Bessam, who is the chief executive officer of the Saudi Fund for Development, reiterated the bank's determination to strengthen the Arab-African cooperation.

He said BADEA had allocated $8 million to respond to Zambia's needs and to contribute to the social and economic development on the Copperbelt.

He said it was his hope that the project would alleviate poverty.

"Our meeting today symbolises our strong resolve to further consolidate the cooperation between BADEA and all its African country partners which was inaugurated way back in 1975," he added.

In a related development, Mr Magande has said Zambia needs money to improve facilities in the energy sector as the country is headed for further economic growth.

Mr Magande said this in Washington on Sunday when he met International Finance Corporation director of infrastructure development, Phillip Prosper.

He said the energy sector was vital for Zambia's development, hence, the need for further funding.

Mr Magande said the ratings on the World Bank index of Zambia's way of doing business had improved, making the country a better business destination than before.

Earlier, Mr Prosper commended Zambia for being rated as the seventh best country in doing business in Africa out of 46 African countries considered and urged the Government to continue.

Mr Prosper said other areas of interest to IFC were the Kafue Gorge power project and the rural electrification project.

During his visit to the US, Mr Magande also met IMF and World Bank officials.

Out-going IMF executive director, Peter Gakuni said that the global financial crisis was still unfolding and that there was a possibility that it would affect weak economies.

Mr Magande praised Mr Gakuni for his exemplary leadership at the helm of the IMF and said Zambia will miss his services.