The World Bank on Friday expressed its willingness to provide technical support to Nigeria in critical areas to facilitate the country’s economic growth and development.
The bank’s Vice President for African Region, Mr Hafez Ghanem said this in a statement issued by Mr James Akpandem, Special Adviser to the Minister of Budget and National Planning in Abuja.
Ghanem spoke when he visited the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Sen. Udoma Udo Udoma.
He said the Bank would provide technical support for Nigeria in the areas of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) Mid-term Review, Power Sector Reform, Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs), and population management.
According to him, the bank will also provide technical support for ERGP delivery, performance tracking and reporting, capacity building for sector officials and economic modelling for policy analysis and forecasting.
Ghanem also pledged the bank’s commitment to increase its support for Nigeria’s Social Investment Programme.
The World Bank chief reiterated that he was in Nigeria to discuss with relevant Nigerian officials regarding the areas Nigeria would like to receive additional support from the bank.
He acknowledged that the present administration in Nigeria had shown commendable commitment in growing the economy.
Ghanem pledged that he would ensure Nigeria had an opportunity to speak about its economic progress at the annual meetings of the World Bank/International Monetary Fund (WB/IMF) scheduled for later in the year in Indonesia.
While receiving Ghanem, the Minister told him that the ERGP was Nigeria’s medium-term plan (2017 – 2020) that articulates government’s vision for the country.
Udoma said the plan also laid the foundation for Nigeria’s long-term economic growth.
He said the present administration had to set very aggressive targets in order to meet the serious challenges caused principally by the collapse in crude oil prices.
“Indeed, the collapse of crude oil prices exposed how dependent the economy is on commodity exports.
“The ERGP was therefore developed to reform the economy so as to reduce its reliance on a single commodity and place it on the path of sustained, diversified and inclusive growth.
“With the introduction of the ERGP, the economic decline has been reversed; the economy has emerged from recession and is beginning to grow again,” he said.
The minister said that in spite of the positive economic news, there was much more to be done to achieve the targets set in the ERGP.
He said the government was focused on accelerating the implementation of the various initiatives in the ERGP and would soon commence a mid-term review of the plan.
He said Nigeria would appreciate technical assistance in the areas of Power Sector Reform and PPPs, ERGP as improvements in these areas were critical to achieving the rapid transformation of the economy.
He pointed out that although a large population could be an asset, a high population growth rate could pose a challenge for any country.
According to him, Nigeria’s rate of population growth needs to be moderated as one of the means of ensuring that the benefits of economic growth have the desired impact and improves the welfare of all the people.
“In that connection, Nigeria can benefit from the experience of countries that have had success in managing their population growth.”
Udoma asked for assistance from the World Bank in arranging for Nigeria to have access to relevant information on the best and most successful methods of achieving success in this area.
The minister also expressed appreciation for the support the World Bank, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and other development partners had been rendering toward the development of the ERGP.
He appealed to the IFC to redeem the pledge to provide funding support for some of the projects identified during the ERGP Focus Labs.
‘It will be appreciated if the Vice President of World Bank can help designate a special session during the forthcoming IMF/World Bank meetings in Indonesia to enable Nigerian representatives to speak to participants about the ERGP.
“This will enable us to attract more investments into Nigeria to further facilitate the achievements of the objectives and targets of the Plan’
The statement also said the Minister of State, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, appreciated the bank’s assistance in the area of security, social investment and the cash transfer programme.
Ahmed urged for more support, especially in the management of Nigeria’s growing population and inclusive growth.
She said if Nigeria succeeded in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) programme, it would make a major contribution to the continent as it would meet the targets set for Africa.