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Rural roads project gets $200m funding

PRESIDENT Lungu (right) with visiting Togolese President Faure Gnassingbé at State House yesterday. PICTURE: COLLINS PHIRI

STEVEN MVULA & NANCY SIAME, Lusaka
PRESIDENT Lungu has proposed the establishment of a framework of co-operation which will encompass and facilitate multi-sectoral collaboration between Zambia and Togo in agriculture, mining and energy production.

The President says given the similarities in the two countries’ economies and industries, there is great potential for collaboration between Zambia and Togo.
Mr Lungu also said the visit by Togolese President Faure Gnassingbe presents an opportunity for Zambia and Togo to share best practices and information in agriculture, energy and mining.
President Lungu was speaking at State House yesterday when he held official talks with the visiting Togolese President.
Mr Lungu also said there is need for the peoples of the two countries to know each other apart from soccer icons such as Emmanuel Adebayor and Kalusha Bwalya.
“I was shocked at the airport when someone remarked ‘so Togolese are black people like ourselves.’ There is need for our two peoples to know each other,” President Lungu said.
He said both Zambia and Togo desire to have finished products from the raw materials found in the two African nations.
President Lungu said the minerals and other resources found in Zambia and Togo must be exploited for value addition for the benefit of the people of the two countries.
“We both have raw materials that need to be changed into finished products. We in Zambia have copper but we import its finished products, and Togo has phosphate but you import fertiliser. We thus both desire to break away from that,” he said.
Mr Lungu said both countries are on a crusade to build their citizens.
President Lungu said there is need for the two countries to establish a framework to cross-pollinate ideas.
“In view of both countries’ strategic focus on agriculture and livestock farming, I wish to underscore the need for the ministries responsible for agriculture in Togo and Zambia to engage each other with the view of signing a memorandum of understanding to enhance cooperation in those areas.
“There is room for similar cooperation in the area of mining, such as the exchange of expertise in legislation pertaining to foreign investment, royalties, taxing policy and value addition to primary products,” he said.
President Lungu also called for the continuation of collaboration between the two countries in various fora to which both countries share common membership on key issues such as peace and security, reform of the United Nations system and the fight against terrorism.
The two leaders later held a closed-door meeting.
And special assistant to the President for press and public relations Amos Chanda said Togo expressed keen interest to learn from Zambia’s land administration system.
Mr Chanda told journalists that Togo is also interested in knowing how to exploit steel, and so today Mr Gnassingbe will tour the Kafue steel plant.
Central, Eastern,  Northern, Luapula, Western and  Southern provinces will benefit from the approved funds, while  rehabilitation of rural roads on the Copperbelt, in Lusaka, Muchinga and North-Western provinces will be financed by Government.
According to the Rural Access Index, only 17 percent of Zambia’s rural population lives within two kilometres of a good road, leaving about 7.5 million residents unconnected to the road network of the country.
About 460,000 people in the targeted rural areas are expected to benefit from the funds approved under the Improved Rural Connectivity Project.
“The Improved Rural Connectivity Project is significant for Zambia because it will improve connectivity in rural areas where poverty levels are particularly high,” said World Bank country manager for Zambia Ina Ruthenberg.
“Besides the project providing improved connectivity to schools, markets, health facilities, and jobs for rural communities, it has the transformational potential of positioning Zambia as the regional food basket, contributing to economic diversification.”
The project, which supports Government’s development priorities as reflected in the National Development Plan and Vision 2030, will contribute to improving living standards of majority rural people who depend on subsistence farming for their livelihoods.
It is envisaged that the funding will facilitate agricultural development in the country by improving farmers’ access to markets.
And World Bank senior transport specialist Justin Runji said the project will also help to address institutional capacity challenges, particularly in road maintenance and safety in Zambia, where feeder roads are largely in poor condition.
Zambia is currently serviced by a road network of 67,671 kilometres; but rural roads are in a poor condition, making it difficult for small-scale farmers to access markets for their produce.
The World Bank’s IDA was established in 1960 to help poorest countries with grants and low to zero-interest loans for projects and programmes that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor people’s living standards.

 



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