World Bank approves $1.5bn loan for Nigeria

The World Bank has approved a $1.5 billion budget-support facility for Nigeria to help build a resilient recovery post COVID-19.

“Nigeria is at a critical juncture. With the sharp fall in oil prices as a result of COVID-19, the economy is projected to contract by over 4% in 2020, plunging the country into its deepest recession since the 1980s.

“Government revenues could fall by more than 15 billion dollars this year, and the crisis will push an additional 5 million Nigerians into poverty in 2020,” Washington-based World Bank said on Tuesday in a website statement.

The World Bank board endorsed the $1.5 billion for two projects, comprising Nigeria Covid-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus – Program for Results (Nigeria CARES) and the State Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability Program for Results (SFTAS).

According to the multilateral lender, the facility is a five-year Country Partnership Framework (CPF) that will run from 2021 to 2024.

“This Country Partnership Framework will guide our engagement for the next 5 years in supporting the Government of Nigeria’s strategic priorities by taking a phased and adaptive approach,” said Shubham Chaudhuri, World Bank Country Director for Nigeria.

“To realize its long-term potential, the country has to make tangible progress on key challenges and pursue some bold reforms. Our engagement will focus on supporting Nigeria’s efforts to reduce poverty and promote sustained private sector-led growth.”

The CPF will prioritise four areas of engagement including investing in human capital by expanding access to basic education, sanitation services and quality water; improving primary healthcare; and enhancing the coverage and effectiveness of social assistance schemes.

It will also promote jobs and economic expansion and diversification by supporting reforms to unlock private investment and employment generation and increasing access to dependable and sustainable power for households and firms.

The CPF is expected to improve resilience, the World Bank said, by bolstering service delivery and livelihood opportunities in the Northeast and other regions coming to terms with insecurity, as well as modernising agriculture and building climate resilience.

It is also intended to invigorate the foundations of the public sector by enhancing public financial management and consolidating the social contract between government and citizens via higher fiscal and debt management.

“A strong private sector is critical to support Nigeria’s economic growth and development. The Country Partnership Framework leverages the World Bank Group to enable business growth that is inclusive and sustainable,” said Kevin Njiraini, IFC Director for Southern Africa and Nigeria.

“IFC will continue to support a broader private sector-led growth strategy to help Nigeria realize its immense potential by attracting more investment and creating millions of quality jobs for its growing population.”