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The World Bank has extended a $ 79 million grant to Rwanda, Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo. The grant is met to improve cross border trade between the three countries. Moe than 80,000 traders and families from great Lakes Region whose live hoods depend on cross border trade are expected to benefit from this grant. Between 20,000 to 30,000 people cross the DRC-Rwanda border every day.

The financing is expected to support the Great Lakes Trade Facilitation Project which is designed to reduce the costs faced by traders, the majority of whom are small-scale and women traders, in the surrounding borders of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Rwanda and Uganda. It will help to develop regional markets near border crossings and facilities to handle an increased flow of goods, services, and people, as well as provide resources to strengthen government agencies at the border to deliver high quality and efficient services.

“Regional approaches to trade facilitation are critical to leverage national efforts,” said Makhtar Diop, World Bank Group Vice President for the Africa Region. “The three Great Lakes countries included in this project share similar challenges that must be tackled through collective action, and borders are the solution provided they are safe and enable traders to do business in a conducive environment.”

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The funds will go toward improving core trade infrastructure and facilities to provide efficient and secure traffic flows of pedestrians, passengers, and commercial vehicles at border crossing points. It will also improve security

Infrastructure improvements at the border will be accompanied by better border management and governance and better trained officials. This is particularly important to small-scale traders, and especially women, who are often victims of harassment and physical violence and are forced to pay bribes.

The Great Lakes Trade Facilitation Project follows a promise made in 2013 by World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim during a visit to DRC, Rwanda and Uganda with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to support peace, security and economic development in the Great Lakes. During the visit, Kim pledged US$1 billion in additional funds to improve health, education, nutrition, job training and other essential services in DRC and the wider Great Lakes region.

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