The African Development Bank (AfDB) has commended Nigeria for its substantial portfolio, which ranks among the largest among the Regional Member Countries (RMCs), with a total commitment value of $4.4 billion.
The director-general of the Nigeria Country Department of AfDB, Lamin Barrow, made this announcement during the Joint Country Portfolio Performance Review (CPPR) Workshop held in Abuja on Friday.
Barrow stated, “In particular, the operations flagged for implementation challenges decreased from 36 percent in January to 32 percent in September.
“This improvement results from collective efforts by the Federal Ministry of Finance, the Executing Agencies, and the Bank to reduce startup and implementation delays.”
Barrow commended the recent approval of the Ekiti Knowledge Zone project by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) and noted, “Indeed, the time taken to meet loan effectiveness and first disbursement conditions has been excessive.”
In addition, he reported that the share of startup delays had been reduced from 32 percent of flagged operations in June to 28 percent in October.
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He anticipates that it will reach 8 percent by the end of 2023 with timely and targeted actions for some projects.
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Despite these improvements, Barrow acknowledged that the bank has yet to reach its target for flagged operations, which is set at 20 percent.
Nevertheless, he reported, “Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, annual disbursements have gradually increased, rising from UA 93 million in 2021 to UA 143 million in 2022 and projected to reach UA 165 million by the end of December.”
Fiduciary compliance has also improved, with Barrow noting, “In the area of Environmental and Social Safeguards, enhanced collaboration between the Bank and the Ministry of Environment has facilitated the timely disclosure of safeguard instruments, especially Environmental and Social Impact Assessments (ESIAs) and Resettlement Action Plans (RAPs) for projects.”
Barrow commended President Bola Tinubu’s administration for its bold reforms aimed at addressing macroeconomic imbalances and structural issues in the economy.
He mentioned, “The least we can do for [our children and grandchildren] is to ensure that these projects are implemented in a timely manner so that the outcomes will improve the quality of life for the people. An outcome-oriented approach should be our guiding principle.”
In a related statement at the workshop, Stanley George, the Director of the International Economic Relations Department (IERD) at the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget, and National Planning, praised AfDB’s partnership in achieving Nigeria’s national development priorities.
George acknowledged some of the challenges affecting the seamless implementation of the portfolio, stating, “Today’s meeting therefore is to present implementation progress, discuss some of these challenges, the opportunities that are there for us to move the portfolio in the desired direction.”
He listed some of these challenges, including long implementation periods, a low disbursement rate, poor communication with the various MDAs, and issues of ineligible expenditures.
George stressed on the importance of timely project implementation for the well-being of future generations and encouraged an outcome-oriented approach to maximize development impact.