ADB gets $286m for Afghan infra fund

New pledges by the UK, US and Japan will aim to ensure 50% of the country’s population has access to power by 2017.

The UK, US and Japan governments have committed a combined $286 million to the Afghanistan Infrastructure Trust Fund (AITF), a vehicle managed by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) on behalf of Afghanistan and donors.

The additional contributions include $213 million from the UK, $60 million from the US and $13 million from Japan. The new pledges bring the total capital pledged to the fund to well over $500 million, its target as of June 2012. Total cumulative AITF funding was worth $271.2 million at the end of last year.

The vehicle is expected to grow to more than $800 million by 2015.

The UK is currently the largest contributor to the fund, with Japan and the US coming second and third. Both have now respectively committed $123 million and $105 million since inception.

Established in December 2010, AITF aims to help provide 90 percent of the population with access to regional and national roads, as well as 50 percent of households with access to grid electricity, by 2017. Its other stated goals include the production of an extra 600,000 cubic metres of gas a day, the shortening of intercity time travel by half and the rehabilitation of 85 percent of irrigation and hydraulic structures. It will co-invest alongside ADB in transport, energy and irrigation projects as well as private sector initiatives.

The institution estimates Afghanistan's infrastructure requirements to be worth $4 billion over the next three years.

Flagship projects sponsored by ADB in Afghanistan include the construction of a 75-kilometre railway line between Mazar-e-Sharif, the country’s fourth-largest city and the Uzbekistan border; power transmission lines from Uzbekistan and Tajikistan; and a 233-kilometre ring road from Qaisar to Leman.

The ADB is currently investing a $1 billion capital pool it earmarked in 2012 for Afghan projects, which it plans to fully deploy by 2018.