The World Bank has 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, who gave the indication in Abuja during a discussion with the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, said the World Bank accorded Nigeria top priority in its considerations.
Mr. Ghanem said the Bank would be willing to 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), as well as population management.
According to a press statement issued by Akpandem James, media aide to the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udo Udoma, the World Bank was also disposed to providing technical support on ERGP delivery, performance tracking and reporting, capacity building for sector officials and economic modelling for policy analysis and forecasting.
He added that Mr. Ghanem also pledged that the Bank would increase its support for Nigeria’s Social Investment Programme.
The Vice President added, according to the statement, that the World Bank was committed to supporting Nigeria’s economic recovery and growth, pointing out that he asserted that given the relative size of the Nigerian economy, it would be difficult for Africa, as a whole, to grow if Nigeria was not growing.
The World Bank chief reiterated that he was in Nigeria to discuss with relevant Nigeria officials as regards the areas in which Nigeria would like to receive additional support from the Bank as the Bank has an interest in the success of all its member countries.
While acknowledging that the current administration in Nigeria had shown commendable commitment in growing the economy, Mr Ghanem pledged that he would help to arrange for Nigeria to have an opportunity to speak about its economic progress at the annual meetings of the World Bank/International Monetary Fund (WB/IMF) scheduled for later this year in Indonesia.
While receiving Mr. Ghanem, the Minister told him that the ERGP was Nigeria’s medium term plan (2017 – 2020) that articulated government’s vision for the country and also laid the foundation for its long term economic growth.
He said the current Administration had to set very aggressive targets in order to meet the serious challenges it met, caused principally by the collapse in crude oil prices.
He said the collapse of crude oil prices exposed how dependent the economy was on commodity exports.
According to the Minister, the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, 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.
He said that with the introduction of the ERGP the economic decline had been reversed; the economy had emerged from recession and was beginning to grow again.
Udoma said that notwithstanding the very positive economic news there was much more to be done to achieve the targets set in the ERGP.
Accordingly, he said that 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, a project for which the country might also be asking for some technical support from the World Bank.
Apart from the ERGP mid-term review, the Minister said, Nigeria would appreciate technical assistance in the areas of Power Sector Reform and PPPs, as improvements in the areas were critical if Nigeria was to achieve the rapid transformation of the economy.