Nigeria’s Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Mr. Wale Edun, has advocated more concessional funding from the World Bank Group for Africa to address its development challenges.
Edun, who is Chair of African Governors Forum of the World Bank, spoke in Abuja, on Thursday at a roundtable for economic transformation in West and Central Africa. The forum had in attendance ministers of finance from the two sub-regions and top officials of the World Bank Group, among others.
The roundtable was aimed at providing a forum for World Bank governors to discuss how to make progress on ambitious priorities for development in the region, how the ongoing World Bank evolution could help accelerate this progress, and how governors could engage and support an ambitious financing and policy package for IDA21.
Edun’s call for more concessional financing came as the World Bank announced that it had earmarked $44 billion for Africa, stating that its funding in the region had risen from $2 billion in 2000 to $28 billion currently.
The minister, while admitting that the Bretton Woods institution had rendered enormous support to the region in terms of financing and other spheres, demanded more from the bank and its affiliates, like the International Development Association (IDA).
He said, “I can say, yes, we benefit from the funding that the bank has, but I must say here that we are looking forward to substantial replenishment, which provides us additional concessional financing.”
African countries, he submitted, were determined to work with the World Bank in their effort to grow their economies, and by doing so, enhance the standard of living of their people.
In her remarks at the meeting, World Bank Managing Director of Operations, Ms. Anna Bjerde, disclosed that the group had increased funding for Africa from about $2 billion in 2000 to $10 billion in 2010, and $28 billion this year.
Bjerde stressed that more funding would be provided through specialised windows towards prevention of conflict as well as to support regional integration.
According to her, the new levels of financing underscored the bank’s commitment to growth in Africa, with financing to Sub-Saharan Africa growing.
Meanwhile, the World Bank promised to step up financial support for Nigeria in priority needs of the country’s economy and lauded the economic reforms under the Bola Tinubu administration. Bjerde made this known on Thursday evening after paying a courtesy visit to Tinubu at State House, Abuja.
Bjerde, who spoke to newsmen after her meeting with Tinubu, also said the bank would continue to support the reforms of the present administration through its supportive instruments.
She stated regarding the outcome of the meeting with the Nigerian president, “The outcome is that the World Bank will continue to support the reforms of the President Tinubu’s administration through the supportive instrument that we have and we will be stepping up our financial support to Nigeria in line with all the different initiatives that are being taken and all the needs that the economy has.”
Bjerde added, “While we already have large programme, from this visit we already see that the programme will grow from there. I have been pleased with the discussions we had over the last meeting with the PBAT.”
Addressing reporters, also, Edun highlighted the outcome of the two-day meeting of Western and Central Africa Ministers of Finance, co-hosted by Nigeria and the World Bank. He said issues of development and concessional financing for West and Central Africa were top on the agenda of the summit.
“We have a mini summit and issues of development and increasing the level of concessional financing to West and Central Africa were on the agenda and we reported to the president that we had a robust discussion,” he said.
The minister said Nigeria also advocated increased resources towards the improvement of electricity and creating more access to social safety nets. He said the target was to provide better support for Nigeria in digitisation and technological development of the economy.
Deji Elumoye and Ndubuisi Francis