BY Mayowa Tijani
Akinwumi Adesina, president of the African Development Bank (AfDB), says Nigeria needs help from the international community in tackling its debt burden.
Speaking at the Nigeria International Economic Partnership Forum in New York on Thursday, Adesina said financing is critical to solving Nigeria’s development challenges.
“Financing is critical because the debt to GDP ratio of Africa has increased to 70 percent — several countries are the risk of high debt distress due to unstable, unsustainable debt levels,” he said.
“Nigeria’s total debt level is N42.84 trillion or $103 billion. External debt levels stand at N16.61 trillion or $40 billion. Ladies and gentlemen, Nigeria needs help to tackle this debt burden.
“International partnerships on debt are helping Africa, and Nigeria. The issuance of special drawing rights (SDR) by the International Monetary Fund of $650 billion helped provide liquidity support for countries. However, Africa only received $33 billion out of all of that. Pretty small.
“A call made by the African heads of State for developed economies to rechannel $100 billion of additional SDRs to Africa will go a long way to reduce the debt burden in Nigeria.
“Allocating this SDR, some of this, through the African Development Bank will actually allow us to leverage it four times because we are a leveraging machine. We can deliver more financing to Nigeria and Africa.
Nigeria and other African countries, in my view, therefore need debt relief. They cannot run up the hill carrying a backpack full of sand.”
He said African countries, including Nigeria, need international partnership to tackle climate change.
Adesina said to understand this, all you have to do is take a look at Lake Chad in Nigeria, stating that the continent loses $15 billion as a result of climate change.
The AFDB president said while there are roses in Nigeria, “roses come with thorns” and that Nigeria’s huge economic potential also comes with a few thorns.
“Those thorns should not discourage us, they call on us to strengthen international partnerships around Nigeria. Nigeria’s growth will be conditioned on its ability to fix its massive infrastructure deficit.
He said the National Integrated Infrastructure masterplan shows Nigeria would need a total financing of $759 billion up until 2043.
Adesina concluded his intervention by referring to a classic by Michael Jackson, asking Nigeria leaders to look at the man in the mirror, and change where necessary.
“I’m talking about the man in the mirror, I’m asking him also to change his ways. We must change our ways sometimes. To attract greater foreign direct investment to Nigeria, we must fix security, capital does not like to be troubled.
“With the right conditions in place, we can confidently say Nigeria is a great investment destination; believe in us, invest in us, invest with us, and you will not be disappointed,” he concluded.