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Sat 18 Aug 2007 12:00 AM

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Kuwait to fund Lebanon rebuild

The Kuwait Fund for Arab and Economic Development will spend $300mn on reconstruction efforts.

The Kuwait Fund for Arab and Economic Development (KFAED) will spend US $300 million (LBP454 billion) on 30 projects in Lebanon as part of reconstruction efforts following the war with Israel last summer.

KFAED has so far signed 11 financing pacts with the Lebanese government in the initial phase of the agreement, which will see around $46 million put towards social and economic projects around the country in areas including Beirut, South Lebanon, Baalbek, Akkar and Tripoli.

The projects will be put to tender within the next few months, according to Mohammad Al-Sadeqi, KFAED's resident representative in Lebanon.

"We are currently selecting consultants who will prepare the tender documents. We will then begin selecting the contractors for the physical work," said Sadeqi.

Sadeqi added that only local contractors and consultants would be selected for the work in an effort to bolster employment in the country.

"Part of the design of these contributions is to maximise utilisation of local participants. We have launched these 11 projects with the idea in mind that we can actually start making a difference; people can benefit from these projects, participate in the implementation, and become part of development rather than being stagnant with the number of unemployed. We would like, through these kind of activities, to employ as much as we can from the local workforce," he said.

Projects include the construction of 13 hospitals and medical centres, 12 water wells located in areas of water scarcity or contamination, and the improvement of the electricity network in Akkar, north Lebanon.

Funds will also be allocated towards the reconstruction of a Beirut suburb.

"This suburb received heavy bombardment during last year's war," added Sadeqi.

"So we will put this first batch of contributions towards the reconstruction of roads, sewage, two community centres and a multi-purpose emergency station for firefighting and police in that area."

So far, Eléctricité de France (EDF) has been chosen as consultant for the electricity project in Akkar.

"We selected them because it is the only consultant dealing with the electricity network in Lebanon, so for us it was very suitable and expeditious to go along with them to prepare the design of Akkar network."

Three consultants including Rasik Khoury, ICI and Sabbah & Sadek have been selected for infrastructure projects in 12 regions in South Lebanon, while ECS Consultants have been chosen for the hospitals and medical centres.

KFAED will manage the projects from its office in Beirut. They are expected to take around four years to complete.

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