On February 29, 2012, a US$10 million loan agreement was signed between OFID and Niger to help finance a public sector project that will construct a 223 km-long road from Arlit to Assamaka, a town located in the north bordering Algeria. The agreement was signed on behalf of OFID by Director-General Mr. Suleiman J. Al-Herbish, and co-signed by HE Amadou Boubacar Cisse, Minister of Planning of Niger. In addition to constructing the paved stretch, which will enable year-round travel, road safety infrastructure will be installed. As much of the road traverses desert, environmental safety measures, such as the stabilization of sand dunes, will be carried out. Four water points will be also be installed every 50 km along the stretch to provide travelers with access to safe drinking water. The improved road will help reduce isolation of remote, rural communities and boost access to marketplaces and social services. It will also help foster trade between Niger and the Maghreb region and provide an alternative trading route for the northern region of the country. Since 1977 OFID has financed 23 operations in Niger, totaling US$145.17 million, which include BOP and HIPC loans, two Commodity Import Programs and 15 project loans in transport, education, electricity and water sectors.