According to an Emirates News Agency report published on Friday, the Opec Fund for International Development (OFID) has signed a US$20 million loan agreement with The Gambia to co-finance the expansion of the Bertil-Harding Highway.
The upgrading of the road infrastructure will improve safety, reduce travel time and costs, and facilitate access to marketplaces, social amenities and jobs for more than 520,000 people in the Greater Banjul Area.
The GBA has experienced significant population growth in recent years; however, the area’s road transport infrastructure remains underdeveloped, resulting in travel bottlenecks and high transport costs. The Gambia government, therefore, has accorded high priority to upgrading its road network under its National Transport Policy to improve accessibility and foster competitiveness and trade.
The 22 km-long Bertil-Harding Highway is an important stretch that provides a link between Old Jeshwang and the Banjul International Airport, vital to the connectivity of the area. The expansion and upgrading of the highway is co-financed by the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development, the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa, the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development and The Gambia government.
Opec Fund director-general, Dr Abdulhamid Alkhalifa, said: “The Gambia’s economy is heavily dependent on agriculture and tourism, which requires a well-functioning transport network. Increasing connectivity through more efficient transportation will support integration and trade and further promote social and economic activity for the citizens of the Greater Banjul Area.”
In addition to the present loan, Opec Fund’s public sector commitments to The Gambia total close to US$128 million supporting transportation, education, energy and multi-sectoral projects.
OFID, the development finance institution established as a channel of aid to developing countries, was established in January 1976 by the then 13 member countries of Opec.