The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB) has approved a loan of $115 million to support a major road rehabilitation project in Nigeria’s Abia State. The project will see the rehabilitation of roads, erosion control infrastructure and preparation of solid waste management facilities in the state capital, Umuahia, and the commercial hub, Aba.
Financing for the project, estimated at a total cost of $263.80 million, will come through an African Development Bank loan of $100 million; a Canada–African Development Bank Climate Fund (CACF) loan of $15 million; and a $125 million co-financing loan from the Islamic Development Bank. The Abia State government will provide $23.80 million in counterpart funding for compensation to people affected by the project and implementation of a Resettlement Action Plan.
Under the project, which is expected to be completed in 2029, a total of 248.46 km of road – 58.03 km of roads in Umuahia and 190.43 km of roads in Aba – will be rehabilitated to asphaltic concrete standards at varying cross sections. Erosion sites in Umuahia and Aba will be reinstated as well as preparatory studies undertaken for private sector participation in solid waste management for the two cities.
The project will also include capacity building, project management and development of social infrastructure such as the rehabilitation of schools and the provision of sanitation facilities in schools, community markets and hospitals.
With an estimated population of 553,000 and 814,000 respectively (2022 estimates), Umuahia, capital of Abia State, and Aba, the commercial hub, are currently facing serious infrastructure challenges arising from decades of underinvestment amidst rapid urbanisation. The situation is aggravated by gully erosion and the emergence of huge piles of solid waste on the roads.
When completed, the 1.37 million population in these two cities will benefit from reduced travel time, reduced vehicle operating costs and lower transport cost. The project will also create 3,000 temporary jobs (30% for women) at the construction phase, and about 1,000 permanent jobs during the operational phase.
The permanent jobs will particularly benefit the youth, who will make up 50% of the project. They will be trained in contract management by the State Youth Road Maintenance Corps for road maintenance, a body of young Abia engineers drawn from the 17 Local Government Areas of the State.
Lamin Barrow, Director General of the African Development Bank’s Nigeria Country Department, said the project would build resilience by providing the towns access to urban infrastructure services, including economic and social amenities.
Barrow said: “The results from implementation of the project will help expand access to economic and social amenities in the two cities, and thereby contribute to building sustainable and liveable cities.”
The African Development Bank’s portfolio in Nigeria comprises 48 operations worth $4.2 billion. The national (Federal and States) operations account for 90% of the portfolio, for 41 projects amounting to $3.79 billion, while multinational operations constitute 10%, for 7 projects amounting to $0.41 billion. There are 24 Sovereign Operations ($2.36 billion or 56% of total commitments) and 24 Non-Sovereign Operations ($1.84 billion or 44%).