The World Bank will give Uzbekistan a $239 million loan to develop its water supply system and a $50 million loan to modernise its innovation system, the Finance Ministry said.
This will give more than 500,000 residents across the Central Asian country access to better water supply and sanitation services. The Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs has also allocated a $7.8 million grant to the same project, which envisages modernising sewage treatment facilities as well as expanding and reconstructing water supply and sewerage networks in three regions of Uzbekistan.
The project to modernise Uzbekistan’s innovation system will promote cooperation between the state, research organisations and the private sector in research and development (R&D) and commercialisation of scientific and innovative products and services.
Local researchers will be able to apply for grants to finance the implementation of about 50 research and development projects, including joint projects involving international researchers and the private sector, the Finance Ministry said in the statement.
In addition, local firms and companies will be eligible for about 30 grants to invest in startup projects and in the R&D of new or existing innovative products and services that are in demand on local and international markets.
“They will be able to apply for funding for a project in the development of medical, pharmaceutical and biotechnological products and services, as well as in other promising areas of science and technology,” the ministry said.
The financial agreements were signed between the World bank and Uzbekistan’s Finance Ministry following talks with the bank’s delegation in Tashkent.
The delegation also indicated that the World Bank would consider providing practical support for the implementation of the Mazar-i-Sharif-Kabul-Peshawar railway construction project, particularly in terms of attracting other international financial institutions to participate in the project.
Uzbekistan has been actively promoting the Trans-Afghan railway line, which will go through its war-torn neighbour Afghanistan and link Central Asia’s most populous nation with Pakistan’s seaports.
When constructed, the 600-km Mazar-i-Sharif-Kabul-Peshawar railway project will open the closest and most efficient corridor for Uzbekistan, where the railway tariffs are among the highest in the world, according to experts.
The World Bank is currently helping Uzbekistan through technical assistance and funding for 24 projects to support important economic reforms in the country, including the development of agriculture, health, education, water and sanitation, energy, transport, social protection systems, the modernisation of urban and rural infrastructure, as well as the mitigation of the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.