Niger: World Bank U.S.$ 100 Million for Reform Package
Washington — The World Bank today approved two International Development Association (IDA*) interest-free credits totaling US$100 million to support Niger's reform program for shared growth.
The First Shared Growth Credit in the amount of US$50 million launches a new series of three annual development policy operations that provides budget support to Niger, based on an agreed reform program to enhance the business environment, increase agricultural productivity, and strengthen public financial management. The budget support is accompanied by funding in the amount of US$50 million for a seven year Competitiveness and Growth Support Project. The objective of this project is to improve selected aspects of Niger's business environment, to support the development of the meat industry, and to increase local business participation in the extractive industry sector.
Ousmane Diagana, World Bank Country Director for Niger, said that "We are supporting Niger in its efforts to deal with the ongoing food crisis in the Sahel and the impact of conflict in Mali and Libya. At the same time, it is important to also keep an eye on Niger's medium to long term development. These two projects will provide critical support to allow Niger to exploit fully its tremendous potential in the mining, oil, and livestock sectors."
Niger became an oil producer in 2011 and, with large scale investments in the mining sector, is set to become the world's second largest producer of uranium. Livestock accounts for a large share of Niger's exports, but currently there is little value added as most of these exports are on hoof to Niger.
"The Government of Niger is grateful for new financial and technical support from the World Bank to help diversify the economy and mitigate the volatility inherent in the mining and agriculture sectors as evidenced in the looming food crisis," says Amadou Boubacar Cisse, Senior Minister of Economic Planning, Land Management and Community Development, Niger. "Through this program, our goal is to provide employment and income opportunities to our poorest citizens, especially youth. The new program also supports the Government of Niger to better coordinate all development assistance the country is receiving for the next several years," concludes the Senior Minister.
Nestor Coffi, the World Bank's country manager for Niger, noted that "the reforms supported by these two operations will not only help to foster economic growth, but they will also help make Niger more resilient to external shocks by supporting the diversification of the economy and the modernization of agricultural research and extension systems. This also reflects key focus areas of the World Bank strategy for Africa."
Niger's rain fed agriculture is subject to recurrent droughts and the government's 3N initiative for food security (Les Nigeriens Nourissent Les Nigeriens - Nigeriens Nourish Nigeriens) aims at scaling up irrigated agriculture, including reforms supported by the credit to increase the productivity of irrigated agriculture.
Robert Utz, the Task Team leader of the First Shared Growth Credit at the World Bank, explained that "it will be important that economic growth will benefit all Nigeriens and especially the poor. The focus of our support on improvements in public financial management will help that resources from the mining and oil sector are used effectively for the implementation of the government's Plan for Economic and Social Development. Ensuring that women can appropriately participate and benefit from economic growth is another important aspect of shared growth and thus an important element of our dialogue with the authorities."
Djibrilla A. Issa, the Task Team leader of the Competitiveness and Growth Support Project at the World Bank, explained that the "Project will help Niger implement reforms aimed at reducing barriers to economic growth through an improved investment climate and support to high potential value chains (meat and butchery and extractive industries). This will help will contribute to attain a higher growth and the diversification of the economy. Support to the development of two value chains will help increase private investments, thus supporting sources of growth that will translate into job creation opportunities. Support to enterprises and increasing skills of workers in Niger will promote enterprises, which in turn is expected to increase formal employment and encourage better working conditions."
The Government of Niger's active IDA portfolio with the World Bank includes 12 projects totaling about US$454 million and complemented by US$32 million Trust Funds is a mix of investments lending and Development Policy Operations
The two IDA credits each has a period of grace of 10 years and 40 year maturity.
* The World Bank's International Development Association (IDA), established in 1960, helps the world's poorest countries by providing loans (called "credits") and grants for projects and programs that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor people's lives. IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world's 81 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa. Resources from IDA bring positive change for 2.5 billion people living on less than $2 a day. Since 1960, IDA has supported development work in 108 countries. Annual commitments have increased steadily and averaged about $15 billion over the last three years, with about 50 percent of commitments going to Africa.
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