EU launches US$470.8 million Africa infrastructure fund

The European Union (EU) has launched a 347 million euro (US$470.8 million) trust fund to disburse aid for infrastructure in Africa to help build road, rail, energy, water, and telecoms networks, including hydropower.

The European Investment Bank is to provide 260 million euros (US$352.7 million) of low-interest loans, with a focus on cross-border projects under the terms of an accord signed April 23, the European Commission said.

The commission plus Austria, Belgium, Italy, Spain, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands will provide the additional 87 million euros (US$118 million) in grants.

Funding due soon for 59-MW Felou

The commission said projects to be funded include the 59-MW Felou hydroelectric project on the Senegal River in Mali. (HNN 12/14/06) Funding for Felou, which is being developed by Senegal, Mali, and Mauritania, could start in the coming weeks, European Commission aid spokesman Amadeu Altafaj said.

The European Union announced the fund more than a year ago, but time was needed to prepare it and start selecting projects, Altafaj said. (HNN 7/18/06)

EU countries aim to boost aid spending to .56 percent of gross national income by 2010, up from .42 percent now, and to .7 percent by 2015. They also have agreed that half the increase in aid would go to Africa.

Aid from EU member states and the commission reached US$69 billion in 2006, more than half the total of the world’s major 22 industrial countries, which hit US$103.9 billion last year according to Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) figures.

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