Kathmandu: The World Bank (WB) has agreed to provide concessional loans of Rs 52.75 billion to Nepal.
Both parties signed concessional financing agreements for Rs 34.96 billion (USD 275 million) for the Accelerating Nepal's Regional Transport and Trade Connectivity (ACCESS) Project and Rs 17.79 billion (USD 140 million) for the Digital Nepal Acceleration (DNA) Project.
The agreements were signed by Finance Secretary, Krishna Hari Pushkar, on behalf of the government, and the World Bank Country Director for Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka, Faris Hadad-Zervous in the presence of Finance Minister Janardan Sharma and WB Vice President for South Asia, Martin Raiser, the World Bank Nepal said in a press note.
On the occasion, the Finance Secretary said, "The projects will help unlock Nepal's economic potential through better connectivity and trade, enhanced digital engagement among people and business, and to access to regional markets to support the socio-economic development in an inclusive manner."
Under the ACCESS Project, the 69 kilometrs two-lane section of the Butwal-Gorusinghe-Chandrauta road along the East-West Highway will be upgraded to a climate-resilient four-lane highway.
With a focus on ensuring better road safety, the project is expected to reduce travel time by 30 percent, thus providing better access to India's western seaports. The project will construct at least three market areas with required internet and trade information facilities along the highway to help enhance economic opportunities, especially for women entrepreneurs and traders.
Similarly, the Digital Nepal Acceleration Project supports the implementation of the Digital Nepal Framework, the country's digital economy strategy that was announced by the government in 2019.
The project will mobilise private capital to increase access to broadband services in rural areas, benefitting people and business that are currently not connected to high-quality and affordable internet connectivity. It will also support and secure the delivery of digital government services through improvements in Nepal's public data infrastructure and cyber security capabilities, increasing access to digital services by women, ethnic and social minorities and persons with disabilities.
"The World Bank is committed to support regional integration and digital transformation in Nepal to ensure the country's trade growth, long-term sustainability, and resilience of investments, and enable an innovative digital economy," said the WB Country Director.