October 1, 2016
The African Development Bank Group President Akinwumi Adesina during his first official visit to Nigeria last week reassured the Nigerian government of the Bank’s support to assist in the country’s economic recovery.
During his three-day visit, Mr. Adesina, a native of Nigeria and a former Minister of Agriculture until his appointment last year as the head of AfDB, met with President Muhammadu Buhari, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and Minister of Finance Kemi Adeosun and other key government officials to discuss government’s reform programs and policy in key areas where the AfDB can provide assistance.
Mr. Adesina told the Nigerian government the AfDB plans to scale up its operations as well as increase its financial commitments in Nigeria within the next five years.
Mr. Adesina also unveiled a $5 billion pledged from AfDB, which includes several new programs such as a US $1billion budget support action which is designed to help the Nigerian government cushion the adverse effects of the severe decline in the price of oil and contribute to closing the budget gap.
Adesina’s visit to Nigeria comes as the government tries to find ways to curb the current recession.
Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy and the Bank’s largest shareholder and one of the largest beneficiaries of the Bank’s loans and grants, is experiencing economic downturn and has seen its economy decreased in the second quarter 2016 by 2.6 percent compared to the same period last year. As a result, all three major international credit rating agencies downgraded the country’s credit ratings.
As a part of its commitment to Nigeria in the few years, the AfDB said it will roll out in the next two years a number of new programs which will help address youth employment, including a US $300-million for the Enable Youth Program to support youth employment in agribusiness with the aim to create 1,000 youth entrepreneurs in agribusiness in each of the 36 states, with an expected additional 185,000 jobs created.
The Agricultural Transformation Support Program-Phase II will receive $200 million, in additional to the US $150 million already allocated, which will support production, infrastructure, and agro-industrial zones for processing and value addition to agricultural produce for domestic and export markets.
In addition, Adesina said the Bank is expected to provide US $300 million for the Abuja Infrastructure Project for integrated infrastructure (water, sanitation, roads and electricity) for four satellite towns in the capital region.
Mr. Adesina also said a US $1-million emergency grant to assist Internally Displaced Peoples in North-Eastern Nigeria suffering from hunger, malnutrition and disease, highlighted in the presentation of the economic team
The Bank will also provide US $250 million for the North East Integrated Infrastructure Development Program to assist with the rehabilitation of the northeastern parts of the country in support of President Buhari’s efforts for economic recovery in the zone.
Adesina visited the “Agripreneurs training centre” at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Abuja, and reiterated his commitment to supporting the emergence of a new generation of entrepreneurs in the agricultural sector. He praised the young “agripreneurs” for their leadership and passion.
“There is no reason for Africa to spend US $35 billion importing food when the continent could feed itself, ” Adesina told the young entrepreneurs, adding that Africa needs to compete for the business of food, instead of exporting jobs elsewhere.
Overall, the Bank’s portfolio in Nigeria is projected to increase from the current US $4.6 billion to US $10 billion by 2019. Of this, the private sector is expected to receive US $6.9 billion, while the public sector will get US $2.1 billion, excluding the budget support of US $1 billion planned for 2016.
Adesina, who is visiting Nigeria lauded the government for the bold measures they have taken to deal with the economic situation.
Copyright 2016 THEAFRICABAZAAR online, a publication of Imek Media, LLC. All Rights Reserved.