Simon Ateba is Chief White House Correspondent for Today News Africa. Simon covers the U.S. government, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions in Washington D.C. He can be reached on [email protected]
The World Bank on Tuesday approved nearly $2.2 billion loan for Nigeria to invest in six projects, including improving immunization, enabling a stronger business environment for the private sector, expanding the digital economy to promote job creation, and increasing public and private sector capacity on governance and social and environmental safeguards.
The money for the six projects will come from the International Development Association (IDA), the French Development Agency, the European Investment Bank and the federal government of Nigeria.
“Nigeria is central to the World Bank Group’s mission of tackling extreme poverty. The World Bank is carefully targeting its support on high impact projects as the country works to tackle corruption and lift 100 million of its people out of poverty,” said David Malpass, World Bank Group President.
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According to Shubham Chaudhuri, World Bank Country Director for Nigeria “the projects focus squarely on delivering better services for Nigerians: ensuring that children are immunized and sleep under mosquito nets, building better roads especially in rural areas, and providing Nigeria’s poorest citizens with a unique identification that will make social safety nets and services more effective”.
Although the World Bank chiefs tried to focus on the projects rather than the debt and repayment conditions as well as the time it would take to pay back the billions of dollars being borrowed by the Buhari administration, the new loan pushes Nigeria’s domestic and foreign debt to over $80 billion, and comes barely a year after the global bank disbursed about $2.4 billion to Nigeria.
Nigeria’s reported domestic debt was already put at $55.6 billion and foreign loans at $25.6 billion or a total of over $80 billion.
The Buhari administration believes to ease the debt burden, Nigeria has to borrow more with low interest and long repayment periods from many institutions including the World Bank and the African Development Bank.
According to the World Bank, the approved program for the fiscal year 2020 comprises the following projects:
- Immunization Plus & Malaria Progress by Accelerating Coverage and Transforming Services will strengthen health systems to deliver effective primary health care and improve immunization, malaria control, and child and maternal health in selected states. Among key results, the project aims to broaden vaccination coverage, increase the percentage of children under five who sleep under insecticide-treated nets from 28 to 41%, and improve the percentage of women who receive post-natal check-ups from 47 to 55%. The project is financed under concessional terms through an International Development Association (IDA) credit of $650 million.
- Nigeria Rural Access and Agricultural Marketing Project will upgrade rural roads and improve connectivity and access to local markets and agrobusiness services in 13 states. Specifically, the project will upgrade about 1,600 kilometers of rural roads and improve 65 agro-logistics centers. These interventions are expected to boost the proportion of population who live within two kilometers of an all-season road by up to 10%. The project is co-financed through an IDA credit of $280 million, $230 million from the French Development Agency, and $65m from the Government of Nigeria.
- Nigeria Digital Identification for Development Project will support the National Identity Management Commission to increase the number of persons who have a national identification number (NIN) reaching about 150 million in the next three years. This will enable people in Nigeria, especially marginalized groups, to access welfare-enhancing services. The project will also enhance the ID system’s legal and technical safeguards to protect personal data and privacy. This is co-financed through an IDA credit of $115 million, $100 million from the French Development Agency, and $215 million from the European Investment Bank.
- Ogun State Economic Transformation Project will catalyze private investment in Ogun State by improving the business environment, strengthening the linkages between agricultural producers, suppliers and service providers, and providing training and apprenticeships for women and farmers. Among some of the key results, the project will facilitate collaboration between farmers and agribusinesses improve STEM teaching in up to 70% of public secondary schools. This is financed through an IDA credit of $250 million.
- Innovation Development and Effectiveness in the Acquisition of Skills Project will strengthen the skills of 50,000 Nigerian students and enhance the capacity of technical teachers to better equip them for jobs in the formal and informal sectors. The project aims to increase the female enrollment rate from 13% to 23% in technical colleges and provide recognized skills and certification to 3,000 youth after they complete an informal apprenticeship. This is financed through an IDA credit of $200 million.
- Sustainable Procurement, Environmental and Social Standards Enhancement Project will strengthen capacity in managing procurement, environmental and social standards in the public and private sectors. The project will enhance the skills of over 21,000 people and help 4,000 professionals become certified in procurement, environment and social standards. It will also ensure that accredited degree programs meet International best practice and Good International Industry Practice in these areas. The project will help tackle corruption and the risk of environmental or social harm as investments are implemented. This is financed through an IDA credit of $80 million.