LAGOS, Nigeria – The African Development Bank is loaning Nigeria $600 million to help offset a budget deficit of $7 billion, a statement said Wednesday.
The bank said another $400 million would be approved next year if the government implements reforms to economize on government costs, combat corruption and promote diversification and competitiveness in Africa’s biggest economy.
Nigeria is struggling through its first recession in 20 years because of low oil prices, militant attacks that have cut petroleum production and a heavy dependence on oil that provides 90 percent of exports and 70 percent of government revenue.
Nigeria had requested the bank loan in February. It has failed to raise another $4 billion to plug the deficit, amid reports the International Monetary Fund also is demanding more reforms.
The president of the African Development Bank, Nigerian Akinwumi Adesina, indicated in September that the bank would increase its investment in Nigeria by $4.1 billion between 2016 and 2017, and up to $10 billion by 2019, stating “Nigeria is too big to fail” and promising the bank’s “strong support.”
Nigeria’s Senate on Tuesday refused to consider President Muhammadu Buhari’s request to seek $29.6 billion in foreign loans over three years to build infrastructure and boost employment. It was a shocking move in a Parliament controlled by the president’s party.
Senate leader Ali Ndume said he would reintroduce the request, which would almost triple Nigeria’s external public debt load.
“Debt is a controversial issue in Nigeria, which benefited from significant debt forgiveness in 2006,” Capital Economics risk analysts said Wednesday, but noted that Nigeria has the lowest public debt to GDP ratio of any major African economy.