EBRD lends $100 million for Azeri roads
London, United Kingdom – The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development is making a $100 million sovereign loan to Azerbaijan to rehabilitate and upgrade a section of the main north-south road that links Russia and Iran with the capital, Baku.
The loan follows the Bankâ€™s first road project with Azerbaijan â€“ signed in July last year â€“ to finance improvements to the main east-west highway across the country, which forms part of the historic east-west Silk Road to Central Asia.
Both projects will also help restructure the road sector, run by the Ministry of Transportâ€™s Road Transport Services Department. First steps in this programme, already being implemented following the 2004 agreement, have significantly enhanced the road maintenance budget and clearly defined the respective roles of the Ministry of Transport and Road Transport Services Department.
About half the countryâ€™s freight is transported by road, and 86 per cent of passengers use road rather than rail. With its oil industry, sea access and geographical position between Russia, Central Asia and Iran, Azerbaijan is a natural transit corridor linking regions and cultures, said Riccardo Puliti, the EBRDâ€™s Director for Transport.
â€œDeveloping the countryâ€™s road network is a priority for the government of Azerbaijan, with the long term benefits being enhanced trade and regional development,â€ said Azerbaijanâ€™s Transport Minister, Ziya Mamadov. Azerbaijan asked the EBRD and a number of other financiers to participate in financing the north-south road corridor from Astara (on the border with Iran) to Samur (on the border with Russia).
EBRD finance will be used to improve the north-south road between Sumgait, 28 km north of Baku, and Zarat, 89 km north of Baku. The first 28 km of the road are being rehabilitated using budgetary funds, while the final section, between Zarat and Samur, is being financed by a Czech export bank.