The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved on April 26 a 50 million US dollar Regional and Local Roads Connectivity Project for Albania. The project supports improved access to several agricultural and tourism centers in Albania, and strengthened capacities of municipalities to manage their road assets.
The existing condition of about half of regional and local road networks does not adequately support access to essential public services, as well as to economic activities. It hinders the development of the emerging tourism industry and of the agricultural sector. Better road connectivity is critical for the development of the country.
The World Bank has contributed in the past by improving rural roads and mobility of people all over the country but more work is necessary to consolidate network improvements in a sustainable manner to enable economic growth. The project builds on the lessons from previously financed work.
“The new project will focus on prioritization of interventions with higher economic impact that complement productive sectors, particularly in agriculture and tourism,” said Maryam Salim, World Bank country manager for Albania. “Tourism development will benefit by improving road access to existing and potential tourism destinations. The project also helps the integration of agricultural producers into agri-food value.”
More specifically, the project will finance the rehabilitation of about 55 km of regional and local roads, bringing better and safer connectivity to areas that are home to around 80,000 inhabitants. The first-year program includes three segments known for their importance on tourism and/or agriculture development such as Fier-Seman, Pogradec-Tushemisht, and Qafë Thore-Theth roads. They have been selected based on a multicriteria analysis.
The rehabilitation of the roads will incorporate climate resilience, such as resilience to flooding and landslides. The project will also promote women’s employment opportunities. The Albanian Development Fund, which has extensive experience on road projects will be the implementing agency.
The prioritisation approach utilised by the project will also provide a policy and investment framework for the construction, rehabilitation, and maintenance of roads that can be used for future investments supported by domestic and international financing.