By Everest Amaefule, Abuja
Nov 10 2008
The World Bank has offered Nigeria the opportunity of a fresh loan of $3bn to improve on its infrastructure.
The window of opportunity is open between 2009 and 2011, according to a senior official of the bank, Mr. Simeon Ehui, who spoke when a group of foreign journalists and alumni of the International Institute of Journalism, led by Head of the institute, Mr. Astrid Kohl, visited the bank on Saturday.
Ehui, who represented the Country Director of the bank, Mr. Onno Ruhl, said the country was eligible to get $3bn to support development projects and eradicate poverty as a result of improvement in the economy.
The meeting was also attended by the Chief Economist of the World Bank Office in Nigeria, Mr. Volker Treichel, and Senior Communications Officer, Mr. Obadiah Tomohdet.
According to Ehui, “The $3bn for three years is a concessionary loan with zero interest rate. It will not add any burden to Nigeria. The loan has been offered to Nigeria because of the massive improvement in the economy.
“As at 1994, there was no commitment by the bank in Nigeria. But the World Bank’s commitment in Nigeria has grown since 1999 to $2.2bn in 2006 and over $2.5bn currently. The improvement in the bank’s commitment in Nigeria over the years is not by chance. It is as a result of improved governance and economic performance.”
The senior bank official explained that the loan was tied to several developmental projects, including education, health, roads, and agriculture, adding that it was an International Development Association concessionary loan with no interest rate apart from administrative charges.
He also noted that Africa now had an additional seat on the World Bank board but added that the country or region that would take the slot was being finalised.
Speaking at the event, the World Bank chief economist said Nigeria’s double-digit growth target was realisable, but urged the Federal Government to address the power problem in the country.
Meanwhile, the bank in its “World Development Report 2009: Reshaping Economic Geography”, released on Friday, said policies that facilitated geographic concentration and economic integration, both within and across countries, as well as within the global economy, would promote long-term growth in Africa.
According to the Director of the report, Mr. Indemit Gill, growth does not come to every place at once, with markets favouring some places over others.
To encourage prosperity, he said, governments should facilitate the geographic concentration of production, rather than fight it. But they must also institute policies that would make the provision of basic needs – schools, security, streets, and sanitation – more universal, he added.
The report noted that sub-Saharan Africa today faced the triple challenges of low density or scarce and scattered populations; long distances between remote areas and centres of economic activity; and deep divisions in national, religious, and ethnic terms.