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11 May 2007 16:30
The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (Nepad) has ambitious plans to build a bridge across the massive Congo River, connecting the capitals of the two Congos.
Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Brazzaville, capital of the Republic of Congo, are visible to one another in the distance on either side of the Stanley Pool.
The pool is dammed by the Inga rapids—where a hydroelectric scheme is another Nepad project—and collects water from the enormous Congo Basin.
Fed by water from alternative rainy seasons on both sides of the Equator, the Congo River crosses the line twice in its journey to the Atlantic.
“The bridge has been prioritised as a project that should be implemented with urgency,” read a Nepad report presented to the Pan-African Parliament at Midrand this week.
In addition to being important to the two Congos, the bridge would connect Africa’s Economic Community of Central African States and Southern African Development Community regions.
Further south, Nepad has plans for a bridge over the Zambezi river at Kazungula, where Zambia and Botswana meet close to the borders of Namibia and Zimbabwe.
For years, a pontoon has carried lorries over this stretch of water.
“Initially, funding was identified from the Japanese Bank for International Cooperation, but the funding was not applicable for Zambia due to its Highly-Indebted Poor Countries Incentive status.
“The Nepad secretariat held several meetings with the African Development Bank and the Development Bank of Southern Africa to secure funding of the Zambian portion of the costs.
“The Botswana and Zambian governments are considering the option of implementing this project estimated at $70-million.
“Various financiers have shown interest in supporting this project,” the report read. - Sapa
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