On Tuesday 8 July 2008, the DRC signed a five year road rehabilitation accord worth US$110 million with the World Bank and Great Britain, for the rehabilitation and upgrading of 1,800 kilometres of high priority roads in the DRC.
In attendance at the signing ceremony was the DRC Minister for Finance Athanase Matenda, World Bank director in the DRC Marie Francoise Marie Nelly, and British ambassador in the DRC Nick Kay.
The accord, known under the programme “Pro Routes” will see the rehabilitation and upgrading of high priority roads in the DRC provinces of Orientale, South Kivu and Katanga.
Many parts of the DRC are completely isolated economically, and road rehabilitation is seen as a way of improving access to important services such as schools and hospitals, as well as markets for Congolese farmers.
Ms. Marie Francoise Maire Nelly of the World Bank explained that the project “is a consolidation of the efforts made by the Bank during the last years through our emergency projects”.
“These emergency projects already made it possible to open 4,200 km of roads, and will thus make it possible to cover more than 40% of the 15,000 km priority roads in the DRC.”
Great Britain will contribute US$60 million to the Pro Routes project.
For British ambassador Nick Kay, roads are of vital importance for economic growth and poverty reduction.
“They are also of a major importance in the agricultural sector, whose revival constitutes an important way of reducting poverty in the DRC.”
Furthermore, Ambassador Kay welcomed Chinese investment in the roads network in the DRC.
“We wish to work closely with the Chinese in the DRC, and we hope to work with them in reducing the environmental and social impacts of road construction."
DRC Finance Minister Matenda welcomed the project: “I hope it will “revive centres of production and encourage the population to restart economic activities, as well as contribute to the restoration and consolidation of state authority.”