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Dhaka Tribune

Dhaka, Paris sign bilateral instruments on infrastructure, satellite system

  • €184 million deal with AFD
  •  Letter of intent was signed with Airbus


Update : 11 Sep 2023, 03:33 PM

Bangladesh and France on Monday signed two bilateral instruments to improve cooperation in urban governance and infrastructure, as well as to build the first-ever earth observation satellite.

French President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina witnessed the signing at Karobi Hall of the Prime Minister’s Office in Dhaka.

Emmanuel Macron arrived in Dhaka on Sunday in a landmark visit, the first by any French President since 1990. He will leave Monday afternoon.

The instruments are:

  1. A Credit Facility Agreement between the Economic Relations Division (ERD), Bangladesh, and the France Development Agency (AFD), France on "Improving Urban Governance and Infrastructure Program.”
  2. Letter of Intent (LOI) on Cooperation between Bangladesh Satellite Company Limited (BSCL) and Airbus Defence and Space SAS, France related to the Bangabandhu-2 Earth Observation Satellite System.

€184 million infrastructure deal

Representatives of the Ministry of Finance signed the Credit Facility Agreement of €184 million agreement with the French Development Agency (AFD). It is aimed at supporting Urban Governance and Infrastructure Improvement in Bangladesh.

This concessional loan will help the Urban Governance and Infrastructure Improvement or UGIIP project, which will be implemented by the Local Government Engineering Department (LGED), the French embassy said.

This "Result-Based Lending program" falls under the broader government's Municipal Development Plan to strengthen urban governance and institutional capacity.

It also serves to provide capital investment for improved municipal infrastructure and service provision in 88 municipalities. 

Specific objectives of the project are:

  • Strengthening municipal governance
  • Improvement of revenue collection
  • Capacity building for municipal institutions
  • Risk sensitive planning
  • Women empowerment
  • Concrete infrastructure improvement
  • Slum area support

Through this project, LGED and AFD hope to reduce urban poverty, improve urban living conditions, and support a more inclusive governance and more resilient municipalities.

Sharifa Khan, secretary of the Economic Relations Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Benoit Chassatte, AFD, country director in Dhaka signed the agreement on behalf of Bangladesh and France respectively.

AFD Group contributes to the implementation of France’s policies for sustainable development and international solidarity. 

The group includes Agence Française de Développement (AFD), which finances 

the public sector, NGOs, research, and training; its subsidiary Proparco, which is dedicated to the private sector; and Expertise France, a technical cooperation agency. 

To date, AFD has committed €1.5 billion through 15 projects and some technical assistance programs to Bangladesh.

Satellite deal

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina expressed her wish to purchase a French-made “observation satellite” under the Bangabandhu-2 program.

Following that, the letter of intent was signed with the Bangladesh Satellite Company Limited with the Airbus.

The offer from Airbus Defence and Space meets all the criteria and is supported at the highest level by the French government, according to the French embassy.

This will be the first-ever earth observation satellite for Bangladesh, which depends on buying images from different companies’ satellites like Airbus when needed.

“With a permanent thick cloud over the country, a very highly specialized technology satellite is needed for Bangladesh for observation. Airbus has this specialized technology. They will not just build the satellite. They are eager to set up a spacecraft production facility here so that our people are trained to manage the satellite and read the images,” said a government official.

“We’ll be able to sell images to other countries who don’t have their own satellite. Anything in the world we will be able to see with our new satellite. The whole idea is to build a partnership to take us up to the level of a space nation and be able to develop and maintain observation satellites,” they added. 

Two-way trade between Dhaka and Paris reached an all-time record of €4.9 billion in 2022, boosted by a surge of RMG exports to France.

TotalEnergies, involved in the LPG sector and Bureau Veritas, with multiple certification facilities across Bangladesh, is the main French investor in Bangladesh.

As of today, 30 French companies have an office in Bangladesh, most of them in the RMG sector, logistics shipping, or engineering.

French companies are involved in flagship projects such as Thales which is engaged in updating the Air Traffic Management in Dhaka international airport, including an additional radar for the third terminal which will be launched soon.

The JV Suez International and OTV-Veolia are building the Gandharbpur water treatment plant to extract 500,000 cubic metre daily in order to supply safe drinking water to 4.3 million people in Dhaka.

Thales Alenia Space commissioned Bangabandhu Satellite-1, the first satellite of Bangladesh, in 2018, which is a communication satellite used mostly by TV channels.

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