Uganda applies for $328m loan to kickstart Kampala-to-Jinja smart motorway

The government of Uganda has applied for a loan of $328m from the African Development Bank and the French Agency for Development to build its flagship smart motorway between the capital, Kampala, and the port of Jinja on the northern shore of Lake Victoria, a distance of about 77km.

The six-lane digital toll road is expected to cost up to $1.5bn, with the remainder of the funding to be supplied by the consortium building the route and the Ugandan government’s transport budget.

The project has been on the government’s to-do list for more than 10 years. In 2010, it hired UK consultant Integrated Transport Planning to carry out a feasibility study, and originally planned to begin work in 2015 and complete in 2020.

The Uganda National Roads Authority said the delay was caused by the lack of a legal framework for Uganda’s first toll road and the difficulty of agreeing terms for the public-private partnership, given the difficulty in predicting traffic volumes on the route.

In December 2018, it was announced that a shortlist of four consortiums had been chosen to compete for the work, including major players from China, France, Portugal, Turkey, Austria and South Korea (see further reading). No winner has yet been named.

The government hopes to obtain the loan with a grace period of eight years and a 25-year repayment period. The African Development Bank has suggested an interest rate of 2.25%, whereas the French Agency for Development has named a figure of 1.5%.

The scheme is one of five expressway projects identified in the Vision 2040 and National Development Plan II as vital to the country’s economic development. The expressways are being constructed to the same standard and together they will form a network that will enable better mobility in and around Kampala.

The project will be developed on a design, build, finance, operate, maintain and transfer basis, with a concession period of 30 years.

Image: The road, which will include the Kampala South Bypass, is expected to help decongest the streets of the capital (Dreamstime)

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