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Ben Eguzozie, in Port Harcourt
Nigeria and other 54 African countries would benefit from the World Bank’s additional $150 billion investment plan in Africa over the next five years.
President of the World Bank, David Malpass, stated the global lender’s intent to invest in the development of Africa in the next five years during the just-concluded summit on Financing African Economies, which held in Paris, France.
President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria was in attendance at the summit, which was hosted by President Emmanuel Macron of France. Several African heads of state and government were in attendance at the summit, with the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) presence conspicuous at the meet.
According to Malpass, the World Bank’s additional $150 billion investment would support development in Africa, a continent of 1.3 billion people, with a combined GDP of $3 trillion.
But the continent has been severely strained by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, which has left it in disparities and critical divides: health care divide, fiscal divide, gender divide, jobs and labour divide. Prior to the onset of the virus, Africa imported 70 per cent to 80 per cent of pharmaceuticals, which has been further worsened by the pandemic. The continent witnessing its first recession in half-a-century as its economy continent-wide contracted by 2.1 per cent in 2020, which many have tagged “year of pandemic.”
Development experts say African governments need at least $154 billion to respond to Covid-19 crisis. Also, they warned that although the continent’s GDP would growth by 3.4 per cent this 2021, the recovery doesn’t remove poverty threat, with 39 million expected to slip into extreme poverty. Populations with lower education, few assets, in informal jobs would be the most hit; and need to be protected.
Meanwhile, Nigeria, Africa’s biggest economy needs $3 trillion over the next 30 years or its entire 2021 budget of N13.58 trillion continuously over the next 100 years on capital expenditure to meet its huge infrastructure gap.
The World Bank president added that the key to further investments on the continent remains transparency and debt sustainability. “Debt sustainability and transparency will also be vital in attracting new financing and investment,” he said.
“The World Bank will channel plans to achieve development through the mobilisation of the private sector.
“In addition to IDA, another important part of our support to Africa will be mobilisation of the private sector, either directly through IFC (International Finance Corporation) and MIGA (Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency) mobilisations or indirectly through the mobilisation of funding by IDA and IBRD (International Bank for Reconstruction and Development) on capital markets,” Malpass stated.