World Bank credit Port cities get boost [Archives:2003/05/Reportage]

February 4 2003

The World Bank has approved a $23 million credit to boost investment climate, growth and new jobs in Yemen’s port cities of Aden, Hodeidah and Mukalla.
The loan is the first in a three-phase initiative to develop Yemen’s coastal cities over twelve years at a cost of $96 million.
The first phase of the Port Cities Development Program will center on Aden, Yemen’s commercial hub, whose strategic location at the tip of the Arabian peninsula once made it the second busiest port in the world.
The program will begin with small-scale infrastructure investments, such as improving facilities at a local fish market and road works at an industrial estate, to fuel small business growth and build linkages to Aden’s transport facilities. Training and investment planning will begin in parallel in both Hodeidah and Mukalla.
To attract private investors, the first phase will also focus on enhancing the ability of Aden’s local government to deliver efficient services to the private sector through administrative modernization, automation of business transactions and information and communications technology.
Another component of the program will support an economic development strategy for Yemen’s three largest port cities that would capitalize on their comparative advantages such as transshipment and vessel servicing in Aden, agro-industries in Hodeidah and fisheries in Mukalla.
Larger scale strategic investments will be planned for subsequent phases of the program in all three port cities.
With a gross national product per capita of US $460, Yemen’s 18.5 million people remain among the poorest in the world. About 42 percent of households live below the poverty line, and approximately 25 percent are unemployed or underemployed. One of the challenges facing Yemen is to reduce its dependence on rapidly depleting oil reserves and turn to promising non-oil sectors and attract private investment.
“At these difficult moments for the country, this program serves to remind everyone of the tremendous potential of Yemen. It is a reminder of Yemen’s rich trading culture, its fantastic location advantage, and its ability to plan long term for its future development,” said Omar Razzaz, World Bank Country Manager who is leading the project.
The port Cities Development Program responds to the government of Yemen’s need to develop an investor-friendly environment and turn its port cities into regional engines for growth by drawing upon its historical affinity to international trade.
The program falls in line with the World Bank’s Country Assistance Strategy for Yemen which includes generating jobs by creating an attractive investment climate and promoting good governance for improved service delivery to the public and business community.