Saturday, February 24, 2024

FEC approves $3.45bn World Bank loan application for power, others

The Federal Executive Council on Monday, approved the application for a $3.45bn loan to finance five projects.

They include projects in the power sector, renewable energy, states’ resource mobilisation programme, adolescent girls’ initiative for learning and empowerment and a women’s empowerment project.

The Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Wale Edun, told State House correspondents that the Federal Goverment would proceed to receive the $3.5bn “zero-interest” loan payable within 40 years with a 10-year moratorium, meaning payments would begin from 2033.

Edun explained, “Today at the Federal Executive Council, I presented five memos which were gracefully approved by the Council. They had to do with concessional and, in many cases, zero-interest financing by the World Bank and the International Development Association, which is the very concessional financing arm.

“The projects that were approved for funding were in the power sector and then the renewable energy sector. There was funding for states for resource mobilisation programmes to help them with the internally-generated revenue efforts.

“There was a project for adolescent girls’ initiative for learning and empowerment. And then finally the fifth financing that was approved was for Women project.”

The Finance Minister added that the girls’ programme worth $700m would support young girls within secondary school age to equip them with marketable skills in addition to their academic achievements.

Putting a figure to the project, Edun said, “$700m is the size of the current project.”

“So those were five loans totalling $3.45bn. And as you know, the tenure is all around 40 years, with a moratorium period of around 10 years and interest very low, or in the cases of loans, zero interest. However, some fees would be incurred,” he added.

Explaining further, the Minister of Education, Tahir Mamman, said the girls’ programme, which initially began in seven states, has been expanded across 11.

“Initially, from seven participating states, we will now have about 11 additional states participating in this project, which will lead to the empowerment of girls between 10 to 20 right across the participating states.

“This is a very major escalation of this programme that is meant to empower our girls, our teachers and the provision for additional schools in the country,” said Mamman.

He added that the programmes are in line with the Tinubu administration’s agenda to reduce, “if not eliminated altogether,” the number of out-of-school girls and children generally.

The Federal Executive Council also approved the setting up of the Humanitarian and Poverty Alleviation Fund with the hope of raising the sum of $5bn annually for emergency responses to humanitarian crises.

The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Betta Edu, disclosed this, saying the money would be raised from the government, contributions from development partners, private sectors, and individuals, among others.

Edu noted that the fund, which will be a form of flexible financing, would allow for emergency responses to humanitarian crises in the country.

“The Humanitarian and Poverty Alleviation Trusts Fund is a flexible form of financing that can help us get contributions from different sectors. So we’re going to have contributions from government, from the private sector, development partners, individuals, philanthropic individuals, and other innovative forms of crowd-funding and pooling of funds together. This is to allow for an emergency response to the humanitarian crisis in Nigeria.

“Every other day, we hear about the crisis, the floods and the rest of it. We need to be able to respond adequately as a country. Beyond this, the issue of poverty alleviation is one of the agendas of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu in his 8-point agenda and we want to be able to tackle it headlong.

“How much are we looking at? Every year, we hope to be able to raise at least $5bn within this fund and this is from the various sources that I’ve mentioned and even more. We are hopeful that with the creation of this funding, we can sit down with all the key stakeholders, including other ministries, and actually work out the full modality of implementation in Nigeria,” The minister explained.

Meanwhile, the Federal Government approved a draft policy for the Nigeria Solid Mineral sector covering the operations, guidelines and regulatory framework as well as sourcing and all the dynamics of the sector.

Explaining this to the journalists, Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dele Alake, also said the Federal Goverment is ready to invest in technology to secure Nigerian Mining space.

Alake identified illegal foreign miners as major perpetrators of unlawful mining activities nationwide, adding that technology has enabled the government to decipher their strategies.

“We are injecting a large dose of technology. We see the challenges of a porous border; the incident of illegal mining is pervasive in rural areas. The government has also traced the incidents of banditry to the handiwork of illegal miners, especially foreign illegal miners who sponsored banditry in the local areas.

“With the mindset of driving away the local population and moving in to explore, it’s technology that is helping us decipher these.

“We are working with the National security adviser, the Inspector General of Police,” he said.

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