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Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB), started his first official visit in Nigeria on Monday with an interactive session with the Government’s economic team chaired by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo. The session focused on how the Bank can help the country overcome it current recession.
In his opening remarks, Vice-President Osinbajo underscored the importance of the meeting, noting the AfDB remains an important partner in Nigeria’s development efforts. The forum, he added, provides a “credible platform to engage in policy dialogue on the Government’s programmes and critical areas where the AfDB can be of assistance.”
The visit takes places at a time when the Nigerian economy is facing headwinds. The economy is in recession. Nigeria, the largest economy in Africa, has seen its economy shrink by 2.6% in the second quarter of 2016 compared with the same period in 2015. As a consequence, the country’s credit ratings have been downgraded by all the three major international credit rating agencies.
Adesina reassured the Nigerian authorities of the Bank’s support: “We are not fair weather friends,” he said. Nigeria is a key founding member of the AfDB. It is the Bank’s largest shareholder, financier of the Bank’s third resource window, the Nigeria Trust Fund (NTF) and the Nigerian Technical Cooperation Fund (NTCF). The country is also among the largest beneficiaries of the Bank’s loans and grants, with its currently portfolio in the country cumulatively valued at US $4.6 billion.
“We are very appreciative of the Bank’s support,” Finance Minister Kemi Adeosun said.
Adesina also commended the authorities for the bold measures they have taken to deal with the economic situation.
The Bank will scale up its operations in the country. The Bank expects to grow its portfolio significantly over the next few years. Over the next two years, the Bank will roll out a number of innovative interventions including, a US $300-million in the Enable Youth Program; US $200 million to the Agricultural Transformation Support Program-Phase II, in additional to the US $150 million allocated to the first phase.
The Bank is also processing a Budget Support Operation of US $1 billion designed to help the Government in its efforts to cushion the adverse effects of the drastic decline in the price of oil and contribute to closing the budget gap.
Members of the Government’s economic team, including finance, budget and planning, agriculture, industry, trade and investments, women’s affairs, labour and employment ministers, among others, highlighted their policies and programmes as well as areas where the Bank can provide critical support.
Adesina also announced 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.