The World Bank said on Thursday it had approved a total of $2.1 billion in concessionary loans to fund projects in Nigeria aimed at improving access to electricity and promoting governance. The projects approved by the International Development Association (IDA), the bank’s low-interest arm, are expected to support Nigeria’s economic growth plan.
Growth rates in Nigeria have bounced back since the third quarter of 2016, when a recession, its first in 25 years, bottomed out. Growth returned largely due to higher oil prices, with the country relying on crude sales for much of its revenue. However, growth slowed again in the first quarter of 2018, as the country’s non-oil sector struggled.
The government expects growth to rise to a pre-recession level of 7 percent by 2020. The World Bank said more than half of the loans would be used to fund power and climate change projects and boost fiscal transparency. It also approved a $7 million grant for nutrition.
Nigeria privatised most of its power sector in 2013 but retained control of its dilapidated monopoly transmission grid, often blamed for hobbling growth. The country intends to raise $2.8 billion of debt offshore to help part-finance its 2018 budget and plans to explore all options to lower costs, the debt office head told Reuters. The debt office said it could tap capital markets or concessionary loans from the World Bank after the 2018 budget had been approved.