Six upcountry districts will soon have an improved road network thanks to a $68 million (approx. Rwf59 billion) grant from the World Bank, which seeks to connect farmers to markets.
The grant was signed yesterday between the Bank and Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning officials in Kigali. It is an additional financing grant for the Feeder Roads Development Project (FRDP), which has been operating in only four districts, namely; Karongi, Rwamagana, Gisagara and Nyamasheke.
The grant will finance the costs associated with the scaling up of the ongoing project and extending it to six other districts.
It will see the rehabilitation, upgrading and multi-year maintenance of 450 kilometres of feeder roads in six new districts in addition to the ongoing 270km in the other four districts.
They include Gatsibo and Nyagatare in Eastern Province, Nyabihu and Rutsiro in Western Province, Nyaruguru in Southern Province, and Gakenke in Northern Province.
The grant was sourced from the Multi Donor Trust Fund (MDTF), a fund supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
Yasser El Gammal, the World Bank Country Manager, said that the direct beneficiaries of the project are estimated to be one million people across the ten districts.
Describing the rural roads construction as “a transformational and catalytic engagement,” Gammal expressed confidence that it will not only have impact on agriculture but also the different aspects of the lives of the people.
“While the original thinking behind this is linking agriculture to the markets, there are so many other benefits for the population like access to health care services, students getting to school easier, and all these are really benefits that we are hoping to continue to see,” he said.
According to Claver Gatete, the Minister for Finance and Economic Planning, the construction of the roads is expected to be completed in 2020. He said the beneficiary districts were selected based on the level of need.
He added that the government has invested a lot in the construction of roads in conjunction with its development partners, which has significantly improved transport across the country. Citing a number of new roads that connect Kigali city to upcountry areas as well as upcountry-to-upcountry roads, and the strides made in air transport in recent years, the minister said these investments exemplify the government’s commitment to further ease travel.
“Now we are saying that before we can get money to put tarmac in every road, at least we can have the feeder roads done properly,” he said.
Jean de Dieu Uwihanganye, the State Minister for Transport, said that the new support comes as a boost to government’s 7-year target of constructing 3000 kilometres of feeder roads.
“With 450km now covered, we are left with about 2500km,” he said.
Over the next three years, the government will finance the construction of another 200km road network, making it 700km in total, he said. “We will then be remaining with 2300 for the remainder of seven years,” he said.