World Bank Approves $1.5bn to Assist Nigeria Reduce Poverty




By Tony Obiechina, Abuja



 The World Bank Group (WBG), in a new five-year Country Partnership Framework (2021 to 2024) has approved a $1.5-billion package to help build a resilient recovery post-COVID19.

Nigeria is at a critical juncture. With the sharp fall in oil prices as a result of COVID-19, Nigeria’s 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. 


“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”, he said.


A statement released by the World Bank on Tuesday said the CPF will focus on four areas of engagement – Investing in human capital by increasing access to basic education, quality water and sanitation services; improving primary healthcare; and increasing the coverage and effectiveness of social assistance programs. 


Additional investments are in promoting women’s empowerment and youth employment and skills, especially for young women, will also help reduce maternal and child mortality.


Similarly, promoting jobs and economic transformation and diversification by supporting measures to unlock private investment and job creation and increasing access to reliable and sustainable power for households and firms. 


The CPF will also focus on boosting digital infrastructure, and developing economic corridors and smart cities, to provide Nigerians with improved livelihoods.


Enhancing resilience by strengthening service delivery and livelihood opportunities in the Northeast and other regions grappling with insecurity, as well as modernizing agriculture and building climate resilience.


Strengthening the foundations of the public sector by improving public financial management and strengthening the social contract between citizens and government through improved 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, the statement pointed out.


Prepared jointly with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), the CPF proposes a collaborative approach of how resources across the entire Bank Group can best support the Government’s effort to achieve its goal to lift 100 million citizens out of poverty.


“To achieve sustainable post-COVID economic recovery, the country needs to strengthen reforms that support private sector solutions and crowd in private sector finance,” said Merli Baroudi, Director at MIGA for Economics and Sustainability.


 “In close coordination with the World Bank and IFC, MIGA will continue to expand its support for cross-border private investment into Nigeria”.
The World Bank Board of Directors also approved $1.5 billion for two projects, which include:


Nigeria Covid-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus – Program for Results (Nigeria CARES): This program will help increase access to social transfers and basic services, as well as provide grants to poor and vulnerable households. 


It will also strengthen food supply chains for poor households while facilitating recovery and enhancing capabilities of MSMEs. This is financed through an International Development Association (IDA) credit of $750 million.


Building on the progress made across 36 States, the original SFTAS program will be expanded and scaled up in response to COVID-19. 
The Additional Financing will help meet the financing gap in the Program Expenditure Framework, due to the sharp reduction in government revenues associated with the crisis.


 It will help increase the efficiency in spending, strengthen revenue mobilization, and enhance accountability and transparency in public resource management to further strengthen state-level COVID-19 response. The project is financed through an International Development Association (IDA) credit of $750 million.


The World Bank Group, one of the largest sources of funding and knowledge for developing countries, is taking broad, fast action to help developing countries strengthen their pandemic response. It is supporting public health interventions, working to ensure the flow of critical supplies and equipment, and helping the private sector continue to operate and sustain jobs.


The World Bank Group is making available up to $160 billion over a 15-month period ending June 2021 to help more than 100 countries protect the poor and vulnerable, support businesses, and bolster economic recovery. 


This includes $50 billion of new IDA resources through grants and highly concessional loans and $12 billion for developing countries to finance the purchase and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.

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