EC Transport Sector Support gets an Overhaul
Decades of international donor support to the transport sector in Chad have targeted the national transport network, but the government remains dependent on external technical assistance. To forge a more sustainable path, the European Commission and Chad’s Ministry of Transport have engaged in a renewed partnership where capacity building and ownership take centre stage.
Providing infrastructure in the Central African nation of Chad offers numerous challenges. Nonetheless, the Commission has for many years been supporting the government’s attempts to extend and pave the country’s meagre road network, but struggled to build government capacity in this sector.
"The European Commission's support to Chad's transport sector has been performing extremely well in terms of improving the country's road network. In terms of helping the Ministry of Infrastructures to develop its capacities and be independent from external technical assistance however, there has not been much progress," explained Daniel Dubois, Former infrastructure project manager, Delegation of the EU to Chad. "Chad now sees capacity building as one of its top priorities". To watch a video interview with Daniel Dubois, click on the icon.
The scope of the institutional support strand of the 9th EDF €84 million EC transport support package was initially largely predetermined by consultant's contracts and planned interventions. As the programme continues, and at Chad's request, greater emphasis has been placed on assuring that the provision of technical assistance is demand driven and contributes to the continuous improvement of the ministry staff's capacities. To do so, a pragmatic methodology has been put in place allowing staff to identify their own priorities, targets and needs in terms of technical assistance.
"Evaluated in an objective manner, this approach helps identify how and where technical assistance is needed," said Mr Dubois.
“Each external technical assistance expert works in close cooperation with two of our national experts,” added Nene Tassy, coordinator of the Chadian Ministry of Infrastructures' project implementation unit. "It ensures that the expertise developed stays in the country".
While road transport represents 90 to 95% of the whole transport sector in Chad, only 6,567 out of the 40,000 km of roads in the country are currently defined as a priority according to the Stratégie National de Transports and are being more or less regularly subject to maintenance. Approximately 79% the planned regular maintenance was carried out in 2007-8, and 64% in 2008-9.
Initially slow to respond, there are signs that ministry staff is finally beginning to see the benefits. Nevertheless much work still needs to be done.
"The Ministry of Infrastructures has faced a number of difficulties due to the lack of human and material resources. Because of the ministry's limited aid-absorption capacity, the provision of technical assistance has been slowed down," said Mr Dubois. "The good news is that the tools for the monitoring of objectives and results are now owned and used. The improvement process can now start".
For the last 20 years, Chad has engaged, with the support of the European Commission and other international donors, in an ambitious multidimensional reform of its transport sector. These include: changes at political level; a reorganisation of government services; major investments in transport infrastructures and road maintenance (including the setting up of a road maintenance agency); the improvement of road transport management; the reinforcement of public and private operators’ capacities and the liberalisation of the transport sector.
The goal is to support economic development through improved infrastructure.
“We aim to reach a significant improvement of our transport network, in particular with the development of permanent transport structures between the main cities as well as in rural areas, which would allow us to create dynamic development economic poles,” added Mr Tassy.
Chad ranked 130 of 160 countries in terms of income per head in the recent Economist Intelligence Unit Survey, but last in terms of quality of life. About twice the size of France with a population of 11.2M according to the 2009 census, Chad's economic development suffers from its geographic remoteness, drought, lack of basic infrastructure, fragile institutions, political turmoil and wranglings with neighbours.
Click here to know more about the cooperation between the European Union and Chad.