17 January 2013

Nigeria: World Bank VP Tasks FG On Inclusive Growth

The federal government must strive to achieve an economy that provides food on the table of the common man if the 7.6 percent annual growth rate is to be of any use, the Vice President of the World Bank in charge of Africa, Makhtar Diop, has said.

Addressing newsmen in Abuja, Tuesday to mark the end of his first official visit to Nigeria as Vice President of the World Bank, Diop said the Nigerian economy is on the right direction at about 7.6 percent annual growth but needed to do more to hit a critical milestone of inclusive growth.

He said: "Nigeria is on the right direction with 8 percent growth annually. Is it enough? No. Can it be accelerated? Yes."

According to him, unemployment especially among the youth is growing in Nigeria principally because the education system has not provided the requisite skills to the graduates to compete in the labour market.

"At the heart of youth unemployment is the lack of skills. There is a gap that needs to be filled," he said.

He said the World Bank was working closely with the federal government to strengthen systems and institutions responsible for jump starting the economy.

For instance, he said the World Bank was supporting the youth in the country with matching funds to start up their businesses just as it is also supporting the power sector with the power purchase guarantee that will ensure private power producers get the required confidence to establish their plants.

He listed the power sector as one of the major obstacles Nigeria must tackle to cross the rubicon to economic regeneration.

His emphasis was that "the power problem is not only about the big manufacturers; it is also about the small businesses - the hair stylists, the fashion designers and others. The sector must be managed transparently without diversion of funds."

According to Diop, very soon some Power Purchase Agreements will be signed by Independent Power Producers (IPPs) and the bulk trader to be guaranteed by the World Bank. This will provide investment confidence for power producers to generate power in the country, he said.

He further noted that a proposal has been drafted arising from the power sector stakeholder meeting that bi-monthly basis, a meeting on the specific targets that have been met to be discussed and new ways of solving the emerging challenges.

He said the World Bank was partnering the federal government to develop a public expenditure tracking indicator system to ensure the procurement process meets best practices.

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