With renewed vigour to end global extreme poverty by 2030, the World Bank has pledged a fresh commitment to help Nigeria cut down considerably the number of its citizens living below $1.25 a day.
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, coordinating minister of the economy and minister of finance, confirmed that discussions are ongoing on this and that there have been some specific and concrete agreements between government and the World Bank on a number of programmes that can help make this happen.
Nigeria’s extreme poverty (people leaving with $1.25 per day) is put at 63.4 percent and according to the World Bank, cutting down this number considerably would require significant and sustained growth, but more importantly, reduction in inequality.
Okonjo-Iweala said the World Bank has agreed to support Nigeria build an institution that can provide longer term financing for businesses to grow and create more jobs.
She also mentioned that there have been agreements with the bank to support the country’s agriculture sector in order to accelerate the transformation happening there at the moment.
There is also an agreement by the World Bank to help government build a mortgage refinance institution that would afford Nigerians access to long term financing to build their own homes.
The bank has already committed to providing some $300 million on favourable terms to this project.
“We are having discussions and we are agreeing on specific programmes that can help with this poverty eradication. We have agreed that the way towards poverty eradication is to create more jobs for people especially the young ones and also to support entrepreneurs to create jobs. To do this, they need longer term access to finance to grow their businesses and at the moment, that is not the case”, the minister confirmed to BusinessDay.
Marie Francoise Marie-Nelly, the World Bank country director for Nigeria, also confirmed this collaborative effort between the bank and government to end extreme poverty in the country.
In a chat, she told BusinessDay that the two parties are discussing on agriculture, construction, education and some other key activities that will have impact on poverty reduction as well as growth and productivity.
She further confirmed that the bank will soon commission a housing finance scheme in which they are committing $300 million and will certainly come up with a scheme on micro-credit.
ONYINYE NWACHUKWU, Abuja