The Cambodian government and the World Bank yesterday signed two agreements in Phnom Penh to implement two key investment projects worth a total of $200 million.
The Higher Education Institutions Capacity Improvement Project (HEICP) and Second Road Asset Management Project (RAMP II) were approved by the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors in April and June this year.
The first seeks to improve higher education for industrial development, while the other is focused on enhancing road links from the capital to the Kingdom’s only deep-sea port in Preah Sihanouk province.
Senior Minister at the Ministry of Economy and Finance Dr Aun Pornmoniroth commended the excellent cooperation between the World Bank and the government which made it possible for the two projects to come to fruition.
“As you all are aware, the development of skilled human resources is critical to realising the goals envisaged under Cambodia’s Industrial Development Policy and the Industrial Development Plan 2015-2025."
“They will support the modernisation of the industrial structure in Cambodia from one that is labour-based to expertise-based industries. Signing these projects today commits the government to achieve their crucial objectives,” he said.
Through the $90 million HEICP, the World Bank will support Cambodia’s efforts to improve the quality of higher education and research in the country and help to broaden access to higher education for disadvantaged students.
This six-year project will focus on improving science, technology, engineering, mathematics and agricultural programs aimed at equipping Cambodian graduates with more relevant and transferable skills as the economy transitions from being labour-intensive to knowledge driven.
The project’s five key activities include providing research funds in priority subject areas, expanding classrooms and laboratories, and building dormitories for disadvantaged students from poor households and remote areas.
It will also strengthen quality assurance and information systems while working with international partners to improve the curriculum and methodologies.
The $110 million in additional financing for RAMP II aims at improving the conditions, safety, and climate resilience of National Road 4 which experiences heavy traffic through several economic zones and rich agricultural areas.
The financing will be used to upgrade more than 200km and improve road shoulders, build drains and bridges with innovative, climate resilient designs. It will also seek to upgrade existing weighing stations and reduce the risk of overloading, install speed-limit zoning, guide-signs, solar powered lights, and speed cameras.
Inguna Dobraja, the World Bank’s country manager for Cambodia, said it is essential for the country to invest in its human capital and improve the skills of its young so that they are able to compete in the economy of the future.
“Closing infrastructure gaps will also be essential to foster Cambodia’s competitiveness in the region and promote private sector development,” she said, adding that “today’s signing ceremony shows that the World Bank continues a close development partnership with Cambodia”.
The two projects are financed through credits from the International Development Association, the Bank’s fund for the poorest countries. They are credits without interest, with a final maturity of 38 years, including a grace period of six years.