The European Investment Bank (EIB), the EU's long-term financing institution, is supporting the reestablishment of the Dakar-Ziguinchor sea link with Investment Facility resources. EIB President Philippe Maystadt and the governmental authorities of the Republic of Senegal signed today in Dakar a finance contract under which the EIB will lend EUR 10 million (around FCFA 7 billion) to the Senegalese Government for purchasing a passenger and goods ferry.

The Dakar-Ziguinchor sea link project comprises the acquisition of a RO/RO ferry for transporting passengers and goods between Dakar and the Casamance region along with related port works. The EIB loan will be granted to the Republic of Senegal, and the Directorate for Ports and Domestic Sea Transport will oversee the implementation of the project and the running of the service by a private operator.

With an estimated total cost of EUR 31.5 million (around FCFA 21 billion), the project will be cofinanced by the EIB's loan, grants from Germany's KfW and Agence française de Développement, and contributions from the Autonomous Port of Dakar and the government.

The signing of this finance contract is set against the backdrop of the EIB's excellent relations with Senegal, President Wade having participated in the ceremony to launch the Investment Facility in 2003 and the inauguration of the regional representative office for West Africa in Dakar on 30 June 2005. The Dakar-Ziguinchor sea link is the first Investment Facility project mounted in Senegal and was signed on the occasion of the office's inauguration.

Since 1999, the EIB has provided finance totalling EUR 126 million (around FCFA 83 billion) for projects in Senegal. In particular, it has helped to fund financial sector operations by means of two private enterprise support facilities for financing small and medium-scale investments. The Bank has also cofinanced the upgrading of Dakar's drinking water supply, the extension of the national telecoms network, and acid production and phosphate mining in Tobène.

Established in 1958 under the Treaty of Rome, the EIB finances capital projects that further European Union (EU) policy objectives. It also participates in the implementation of the EU's cooperation policy towards third countries that have concluded cooperation or association agreements with the Union.

Financing in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP) is now carried out in the framework of the Investment Facility, set up by the ACP-EU Partnership Agreement signed in Cotonou in June 2000. Under the Cotonou Agreement, the total financial aid available for the period 2002-2006 amounts to some EUR 15 billion, consisting of EUR 11.3 billion in grant aid from the EU Member States, EUR 2 billion managed by the EIB under the Investment Facility and up to EUR 1.7 billion in the form of loans from the EIB's own resources. The Investment Facility is a revolving instrument (loan repayments are invested in new operations) aimed at supporting technically, environmentally, financially and economically sound projects in the private or the commercially-run public sectors.