In 2011, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the government of Armenia devised the “Sustainable Urban Development Investment Program“, a $400 million financing facility to help boost urban development, particularly urban transport, in Armenia. The first project financed by the investment program is the construction of a piece of road through Yerevan for traveling along the North-South road. The government of Armenia is keen to develop other cities besides Yerevan, and requested ADB to provide technical assistance for urban development in Gyumri, Vanadzor, Dilijan, and Jermuk. That technical assistance has started recently. Projects identified in the technical assistance may also be financed by the Sustainable Urban Development Investment Program.
Having this in mind iTechnology.am talked to Mr. Dave Dole, ADB Armenia Resident Mission, to learn more on the plans of urban development in secondary cities of Armenia, focusing on Gyumri the main topic of our latest issue.
iTechnology.am: Could you provide some background on the project? How did the Armenian government and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) come up with the concept of Urban Development in Secondary Cities Project?
Dave Dole: There is no necessary breakdown of dollar investments per city. ADB has recently started a technical assistance project working with the Ministry of Territorial Administration to help Gyumri, Vanadzor, Dilijan, and Jermuk improve their city development plans. The investments per town will be identified during the technical assistance phase, and no decisions have been made so far. ADB also has another technical assistance project that aims to help Armenia develop environmentally sound facilities for managing solid waste. That project has proposed siting regional landfills near Gyumri, Vanadzor, and other towns, but the government has not yet decided how to proceed.
iTechnology.am: Why focus on Gyumri, Jermuk, Vanadzor and Dilijan?
Dave Dole: The government selected Gyumri and Vanadzor as strategic cities for industrial renewal. Jermuk was selected as a priority for tourism development. ADB’s technical assistance project in Dilijan will complement the other, ongoing developments taking place there already.
iTechnology.am: In what areas will the Asian Development Bank will provide technical assistance?
Dave Dole: The technical assistance is focusing on general urban development strategies, including the strategic vision for each town (for example, tourism in Jermuk). The strategy for each town will lead to an investment plan per town, likely focusing on investments in transport and water supply.
iTechnology.am: As the project implementation advances, have some studies already been conducted? What has been the main conclusions so far? What are the projects that will be prioritized?
Dave Dole: The technical assistance study for urban development has just recently started. Information is still being collected and analyzed, and no conclusions have been made yet. The technical assistance study on solid waste has proposed landfills near Gyumri and Vanadzor (and other places), but the government has not yet decided how to proceed.
iTechnology.am: The bank board approved the project on April 29, 2013. What is the current phase of the project and what are the next steps?
Dave Dole: ADB’s Board approved the technical assistance study for urban development in April, 2013. The technical assistance has just recently started, and is complementary to the Sustainable Urban Development Investment Program that was approved in 2011. The financing program for urban development may eventually finance investments in Gyumri, but currently includes only road investments in Yerevan.
iTechnology.am: This issue of iTechnology.am is focused on Gyumri. Has the ADB taken into account the role of IT sector in the economic development of Gyumri? Is there any point in “Urban Development in Secondary Cities” project related to the IT industry in Gyumri?
Dave Dole: The technical assistance study will certainly take into account IT as a sector for economic development in Gyumri. The study has just recently started, and would benefit from hearing from all parties interested in Gyumri’s development, including IT and other sectors. ADB welcomes comments and inputs from all interested parties.
iTechnology.am: What are the overall targets and targets for the other cities?
Dave Dole: The general aim of the technical assistance study on urban development is to draft medium-term to long-term urban development plans for each city. The specific targets are still to be determined, depending on each city’s vision for the future and corresponding development plans.
iTechnology.am is committed to following the developments of this great initiative and bring it to our readers.