ASTANA (TCA) — The World Bank Board of Directors on June 9 approved a US $978 million loan to improve transport links along the Kazakhstan Center West Corridor and strengthen the capacity of the local authorities to better manage and preserve roads, the Bank said.
The Center West Corridor Project will finance construction of about 1,014 km of road sections between Astana and Shalkar, a missing road link between Kazakhstan’s center and west (from Astana via Aktobe to Aktau). The project will not only help generate road user benefits, but also help to increase trade opportunities initially at the regional level (Torgay and Shalkar), subsequently at the national level, and potentially at the international level, making the western region of Kazakhstan an intermediating trade zone between Russia, the Caucasus, the Middle East, and Asia.
“The new corridor is expected to contribute to the balanced development of the western and northern areas of Kazakhstan,” said Francis Ato Brown, World Bank Country Manager for Kazakhstan. “These regions will be able to develop economic activity and improve jobs and earning prospects through increased access to markets.”
About three million people residing along the corridor will benefit from improved connectivity, reduced travel times, access to basic services, emergency response, and better services along the road. In addition to employment opportunities, the project is expected to provide business and entrepreneurial capacity building services for the rural population, to expand opportunities for value-added processing in agriculture, and to boost tourism as well as cross-regional cooperation.
The implementation of the five-year project (2016-2021) will start after the country approval process is completed. The project will be financed through a US$978 million IBRD loan, with a 24-year maturity period and a 6-year grace period, with US$133.34 million in co-financing from the Government of Kazakhstan.