Grant agreements worth $147.8m signed
The agreements include a $97.8 million grant for irrigation restoration and development project, which builds upon and scales up activities supported under the ongoing World Bank-financed Emergency Irrigation Rehabilitation Project (EIRP), the finance ministrty said in a statement.
The project will support the rehabilitation of irrigation systems serving some 300,000 hectares of land, design and construct a limited number of small multi-purpose dams and related works, while establishing hydro-meteorological facilities and services, it said.
A $50 million IDA grant for the Afghanistan Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) Sector Development Project is also part of the agreement to build on the success of earlier projects and catalyse the next phase of ICT development in the country.
The ministry said the project would support policy and regulatory reforms and strategic infrastructure investment to expand connectivity and enable more users to access high quality mobile and internet services.
"It will also help mainstream the use of mobile applications to improve public service delivery and programme management in strategic sectors in the government."
The scheme would also help develop the local IT industry by expanding the pool of skilled and qualified IT professionals, and supporting the incubation of ICT companies in Afghanistan, it said.
“Building infrastructure for irrigation and for telecommunications is critical for economic growth and employment generation in Afghanistan,” said Omar Zakhilwal, Minister of Finance (MoF), said.
“Significant progress has been made in both these sectors in recent years and our initial efforts have led to considerable gains for the Afghan people. Growing agricultural production has resulted in food security as well as increased incomes for thousands of farmers while improved telecommunications infrastructure has enabled our people to connect with the rest of the world," he added
In 2004, the World Bank financed the Emergency Irrigation Rehabilitation Project (EIRP) which has since become pivotal to the government’s efforts to revive agriculture in Afghanistan.
“Agriculture is our country’s hope for growth and given the arid climate, cultivation without irrigation is nearly impossible,” said the acting Minister of Energy and Water, Mohammad Ismail, said.
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