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The Guinea-Bissau Infrastructure Rehabilitation Project, supported by Credit 2074-GUB for US$23.6 million equivalent, was approved in FY90. The credit was closed, fully disbursed, in FY97, one year later than scheduled. The Implementation Completion Report (ICR) does not include information on the amount of cofinancing. The ICR was prepared by the Africa Regional Office. The borrower submitted a separate evaluation report which is included as an appendix in the ICR. The cofinancier did not comment on the report.

The objectives of the project were: (i) to strengthen government transport sector institutions; (ii) to improve competition between road and river transport, including privatization of some operations; (iii) to improve feeder roads, (iv) to improve municipal management and services; and (v) to provide trained personnel for central and local urban and transport government agencies and the private sector. To support these objectives, the project included: (a) technical assistance and training to strengthen management and planning of public works, transport and housing ministries and local governments; (b) assistance for government owned transport companies; (c) a road infrastructure program including rehabilitation of 180 km of unpaved roads, improvement of 130 km of feeder roads and ferry ramps, and vehicles, equipment, and spare parts for road maintenance; and (d) an urban program including development of 720 plots for low-cost urban housing and 40 demonstration houses.

Over one third of the project's financing requirement was not confirmed at the time of Board approval of the Credit and never materialized because most donors who had expressed interest in cofinancing during project preparation eventually decided against supporting the project. Only the EC provided funds for improving 130 km of feeder roads. Consequently, more than half of the project's physical components had to be dropped, including vehicles and equipment for transport companies, rehabilitation of unpaved roads, and most of the urban program. Those components financed by IDA, including rehabilitation of 50 km of non-urban and 11 km of urban paved roads, 40 demonstration low-cost houses, and a very reduced road maintenance program, were, however, effectively implemented. The maintenance program was severely affected by the lack of government funding during the project with the result that only 20 percent of required maintenance funding was allocated in 1995. However, the Government has now agreed to earmark more funds for road maintenance, establish an autonomous road agency, and carry out more maintenance by contract, with assistance from a follow-on Transport and Urban Infrastructure Project (Credit 2748-GUB).

The project was more successful in implementing the main project objectives to strengthen institutional capacity and privatize transport entities. The extensive training program helped to improve the technical and professional capacity of transport and housing ministries, although sector management capacity and policy formulation still remain weak. Bus, shipping, road transport and port operations were privatized, and river and air transport are in the process of being privatized.

OED has rated project outcome as marginally satisfactory, as did the ICR, in view of the considerable success of the project in realizing some of the institutional and privatization objectives in a difficult environment and in implementing the physical components financed by IDA without undue delay. Project sustainability has been rated as uncertain mainly because of the uncertainties over the Government’s commitment to continuation of sector reforms and macroeconomic situations, and the problems encountered with the follow-on project because of weakening Borrower commitment, and weak institutional capacity of regulatory agencies. The ICR rated sustainability as likely. Both OED and the ICR rate institutional development impact as substantial, given the successful training program and low institutional base from which the project started. Despite the over-ambitious objectives of the project, both OED and the ICR rate Bank performance as satisfactory because of good project preparation and supervision.

The major lesson from the project is that project objectives should focus on one or two key objectives in a country as limited in resources as Guinea-Bissau. The project was overly ambitious in trying to achieve privatization of nearly all modes of transport, rehabilitate and improve roads, improve road maintenance, develop low cost housing, and improve transport sector and municipal management. Another lesson is that to ensure that priority components are implemented, firm commitments from cofinanciers are needed before the project is approved. Finally, where funding for road maintenance has clearly been inadequate in the past, upfront measures should be required to demonstrate the borrower's commitment to increase funding.

The ICR is rated as satisfactory although the ICR did not include sufficient information on some project components and the impact of institutional measures and failed to include an operations plan or monitoring indicators for future performance.

The project will be audited.




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