Days after 10 of its executive directors departed Nigeria after a three-day visit, the World Bank on Monday announced a fresh $8.8 billion (about N2.69 trillion) investment strategy in the country in the 2019 fiscal year.
The investments under the World Bank’s Nigeria Country Partnership Strategy (NCPS) would be executed through its affiliate financial institutions, namely the International Development Association (IDA) and International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD).
The announcement of the new investment strategy was contained in a statement sent to PREMIUM TIMES at the end of the directors’ visit to the country.
During the visit, the directors acknowledged Nigeria’s strategic importance to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) sub-region and its central role in the World Bank Group’s regional strategy for Sub-Saharan Africa.
“Nigeria has been one of IFC’s fastest growing portfolios and represents IFC’s fifth largest global country exposure, with a committed volume of $1.6 billion,” the bank said in the statement.
“Nigeria is MIGA (Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA)’s fifth largest country exposure in Sub-Saharan Africa, with $334 million in current exposure.”
The delegation led by Patrizio Pagano, the Executive Director for Italy, Albania, Greece, Malta, Portugal, San Marino and Timor-Leste, said they were in Nigeria to get a better understanding of the country’s development priorities with a special focus on the energy sector.
Apart from discussions with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, the delegation visited the governors of Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Edo, Lagos, Taraba and Yobe as well as other senior federal and state government officials
Besides, they took time to review the security challenges in the North-east and Middle Belt regions ravaged by insurgency and conflicts between farmers and herders. They proffered suggestions on how to achieve environmental development in the areas.
Mr Pagano said the team was in Nigeria to “get a better understanding of the country context, assess the World Bank’s interventions on the ground, and support opportunities that will keep the country on a path of sustained development.
“We commend Nigeria’s implementation of its new Economic Growth and Recovery Plan (EGRP) and the Power Sector Recovery Plan (PSRP) both of which are important for regional integration to ensure trade and capital flows, which will ultimately lead to greater growth,” he said.
The team also met with beneficiaries of the World Bank-supported projects in agriculture, education, health, youth employment, community development, soil erosion and public financial management sectors.
It held separate meetings with representatives of the private sector, civil society organizations, diplomatic missions and development partners to understand their peculiar challenges.
At the newly commissioned Azura-Edo Power Plant in Benin City, the Group said the project, supported by IFC, MIGA and the World Bank, was a key initiative in the government’s power sector reform agenda to boost the economy.
In Lagos, the team visited some of its micro-finance clients, mostly women, to interact with them and understand how the funds they received impact their livelihoods.
In an interactive meeting with private sector executives, the Group noted the role the private sector could play in job creation and inclusive growth.
They equally highlighted the need to sustain business reforms and provide affordable and reliable power to improve the living standards of Nigerians.
Emphasizing Nigeria’s continued implementation of institutional policy reforms, Mr Pagano assured of the World Bank Group’s support to restore macroeconomic resilience and growth across sectors.
He reaffirmed the Group’s “commitment to supporting Nigeria’s growth in a way that is inclusive, job enhancing, and reduces poverty and inequality.”
“Critical to this inclusive growth objective is reforming the power sector, boosting critical investments in human development, and mobilising finance for development by creating a conducive environment for private sector participation,” he said.