World Bank issues $140 million loan to Azerbaijan

By Nazrin Gadimova

The World Bank has allocated $140 million loan to Azerbaijan for the additional financing of the Baku-Shamakhi highway.

The Board of Directors approved the loan on March 28, according to the report issued by the bank.

The loan will help complete upgrading of the road sections by expanding them from two to four lanes, and will support strengthening Azerbaijan’s nascent motorway management and maintenance program.

Moreover, the project will help provide better transport services in mountainous central and northern regions of Azerbaijan, which have considerable potential for tourism and industrial production.

Nijat Valiyev, leader of the World Bank team that prepared the project, believes that this additional financing will help complete improvement of the Baku – Shamakhi road to make it safer and more efficient for the users.

“We’re pleased that the project now has a major component to modernize Azerbaijan’s road management and maintenance practices by putting in place necessary institutions, human resources and technology,” Valiyev added.

Roads are the dominant transport mode in Azerbaijan accounting for 60 percent of freight and 90 percent of passenger transportation. The Baku-Shamakhi highway also constitutes part of the shortest route to the Georgian border, and connects Baku with major agricultural producers in the west of Azerbaijan.

Larisa Leshchenko, World Bank Country Manager for Azerbaijan believes that this project contributes to one of the building blocks of Azerbaijan’s development program, namely connecting people, enterprises, markets and services.

“We expect that this project will foster economic activity and tourism in this important region of Azerbaijan,” she said.

The Baku-Shamakhi highway is being reconstructed as part of the third main road reconstruction project.

The third road project worth $356.15 million was approved in 2010. This project includes two areas. The first area concerns the reconstruction of the main road network of Azerbaijan and transit corridors, the second area - local roads being reconstructed as part of a regional development strategy. The Baku-Shamakhi-Muganli highway reconstruction project envisages its expansion from two to four lanes. The project will be implemented in September 2016.

As of February 1, 2016, the World Bank allocated $241.6 million for the project.

Azerbaijan has been a WB member since 1992. As of February 1, 2016, the Bank issued loans amounting to $3.785 billion to Azerbaijan. The funds were used to finance over 60 projects. By early 2016, Azerbaijan has used $2.764 billion or 73 percent of all loans drawn via WB. Besides the loans, WB delivered 45 grants totaling $41.586 million to Azerbaijan in 1995-2014.

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Nazrin Gadimova is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @NazrinGadimova

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