Nigeria: World Bank Urges Nigeria to Deepen Reforms to Mitigate Covid-19 Impact

(file photo).
11 December 2020

In the next three years, an average Nigerian could see a reversal of decades of economic growth and the country could enter its deepest recession since the 1980s, World Bank said in an economic assessment report that was released yesterday.

The latest World Bank Nigeria Development Update argues that this path could be avoided if progress in the current reforms is sustained and the right mix of policy measures is implemented.

The report "Rising to the Challenge: Nigeria's COVID Response" takes stock on the recently implemented reforms and proposes policy options to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and foster a resilient, sustainable, and inclusive recovery.

"Nigeria is at a critical historical juncture, with a choice to make" said Shubham Chaudhuri, World Bank Country director for Nigeria. "Nigeria can choose to break decisively from business-as-usual, and rise to its considerable potential by sustaining the bold reforms that have been taken thus far and going even further and with an even greater sense of urgency to promote faster and more inclusive economic growth."

The latest World Bank NDU projects that the economy could shrink up to 4 percent in 2020 following the twin shocks of COVID-19 and low oil prices. The pace of recovery in 2021 and beyond remains highly uncertain and subject to the pace of reforms.

The pandemic is disproportionately affecting the poor and most vulnerable, women in particular. In the absence of measures to mitigate the impact of the crisis, the number of poor could increase by 15 to 20 million by 2022. Food insecurity has increased substantially and economic precarity is on the rise because unemployed workers have migrated to the low-productivity agricultural sector.

The NDU acknowledges measures taken by the government since April, including the efforts to harmonize exchange rates, introduce a market-based pricing mechanism for gasoline, adjust electricity tariffs to more cost-reflective levels, and reduce non-essential expenditures and redirect resources towards the COVID-19 response. It also highlights the greater transparency in the oil and gas sector and public debt as essential steps for a resilient recovery.

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