ADB: Focus on Roads, Water Infrastructure Azerbaijan
Manila, Philippines – ADB plans to boost its operations in the road and water supply and sanitation sectors in Azerbaijan, according to an ADB Country Strategy and Program (CSP) update that earmarks about US$179 million in loans for the nation in the coming year.
The amount – a considerable increase over the $39 million in loans programmed for 2006 in the previous CSP Update for Azerbaijan – reflects increased support to the Government’s infrastructure development plans, strong debt repayment capacity, and a positive economic outlook.
"With ADB’s working relationship with the Government maturing and Azerbaijan’s improved economic outlook, our program must respond to this changing environment," says Matthew Westfall, the ADB Country Director at the Resident Mission in Azerbaijan.
Despite high oil-driven growth, Azerbaijan faces tremendous development needs. While poverty has dropped considerably since 1995, it still remains high. Although Azerbaijan has achieved nearly universal primary education, access to other essential services such as water and sanitation and health needs substantial improvement.
Besides infrastructure, ADB’s updated program will also address areas of the power and energy sector, especially in renewable electricity and gas supply in underdeveloped regions to bring much needed electricity and heating for the poor. Additional ADB support will be provided through its private sector operations to promote greater private sector participation in key economic sectors.
The four ADB loans planned for the year would address road improvements on the southern corridor, social infrastructure for internally displaced persons and regional towns, and early childhood development. The loans would be complemented by a grant program totaling more than $2 million, mostly to prepare or support projects and carry out analysis for the development of a national poverty reduction strategy. Final assistance levels depend on such factors as country performance and ADB resource availability.
A full Country Strategy and Program – the country’s first since it became an ADB member in 1999 – is under preparation. The CSP will align with the Government’s 10-year national poverty reduction strategy, expected in late spring.
"In the full CSP, the proposed sectors in which we will undertake work will be further refined, with ADB likely to step up its efforts in the education, energy, transport, urban development, and water supply and sanitation sectors," Mr. Westfall adds.