Nigeria’s debt to World Bank hits N6trn

Bisola David
Bisola David
World Bank approves $300m support package for Ghana's economic recovery

Under the administration of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), Nigeria’s debt from the World Bank increased by 121.46% to six trillion.

According to The Punch, Nigeria’s overall debt to the World Bank Group increased by $7.64 billion (or N3.52 trillion, using the Central Bank of Nigeria’s exchange rate, which was N460.53 per dollar as of April 23, 2023) over the course of seven years.

Information from the Debt Management Office’s external debt stock reports that the country’s debt to the Washington, DC-based lender increased from $6.29 billion (N2.9 trillion) in December 2015 to $13.93 billion (N6.42 trillion) in December 2022.

Nigeria has received loans from the World Bank’s International Development Association and International Bank for Reconstruction and Development over the years.

While the IDA offers grants and concessionary loans to governments of the world’s poorest nations, the IBRD lends to governments of middle-income and creditworthy low-income nations.

According to the data, Nigeria owes $6.29 billion to IDA and $3.57 billion to IBRD as of 2016, but by 2022, IDA’s debt to Nigeria would be $13.45 billion and IBRD’s would be $487.03 million.

Further analysis over the years revealed that Nigeria borrowed a total of $6.67 billion from the World Bank in 2016, $8.03 billion in 2017, $8.67 billion in 2018, $10.1 billion in 2019, $11.53 billion in 2020, and $12.38 billion in 2021.

The World Bank often links the loans it approves to Nigeria to several projects spread around the nation.

For instance, it was decided to co-finance the Nigeria Rural Access and Agricultural Marketing Project in 2020 with $280 million from the International Development Association, $230 million from the French Development Agency, and $65 million from the Federal Government of Nigeria. The project aims to upgrade rural roads, improve connectivity and access to local markets and agribusiness services in 13 states.

It was also approved to co-finance the Nigeria Digital Identification for Development Project with a $115 million IDA credit, $100 million from the French Development Agency, and $215 million from the European Investment Bank. This project will help the National Identity Management Commission get to 150 million people with national identification numbers in the next three years.

The Nigeria Agro-Climatic Resilience in Semi-Arid Landscapes Project will receive a $700 million credit from the IDA in 2021, according to the World Bank.

Additionally, the bank granted $500 million to help increase Nigeria’s access to power and enhance the efficiency of the nation’s electrical distribution businesses.

Nigeria has risen up to the top 10 International Development Association borrowers list of the World Bank due to mounting debt.

Nigeria was ranked fifth on the list with $11.7 billion in IDA debt stock as of June 30, 2021, according to the World Bank’s Fiscal Year 2021 audited financial statements, also known as the IDA financial statement.

Nigeria has moved up to fourth place on the list, according to the World Bank’s recently issued Fiscal Year 2022 audited financial records for IDA, with a $13 billion IDA debt stock as of June 30, 2022.

This demonstrates that Nigeria, which replaced Vietnam as the fourth-largest debtor, accumulated roughly $1.3 billion in IDA debt in a fiscal year.

This debt is distinct from the unpaid loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development of the World Bank.

Except for Nigeria, the top five nations on the list all marginally decreased their IDA debt stock.

Recently, the World Bank revealed that Nigeria’s debt, while potentially sustainable for the time being, is risky and expensive.

“The Central Bank of Nigeria continues to provide significant and expanding finance, according to the bank, “which makes Nigeria’s debt manageable even though it is risky and costly.

Meanwhile, experts have cautioned that if nothing is done to address the recent borrowing spree amid low revenue, the future government may face a debt repayment catastrophe.

Some Nigerian banks’ Ghanaian subsidiaries announced impairment charges of over N155 billion as a result of the government of West Africa’s country restructuring its public debt.

This information was included in the financial institutions’ audited statements that were submitted to the Nigerian Exchange Limited.

These companies include United Bank for Africa Plc., Access Bank Plc., and GTCO’s Ghanaian subsidiaries.

In an effort to restore the macroeconomic stability of the country in the face of its economic and financial difficulties, the Government of Ghana declared in December 2022 that all debt service payments on its external debt would be suspended.

Additionally, it established a voluntary Domestic Debt Exchange Programme, inviting local investors to voluntarily exchange a package of new bonds with extended maturity dates and lower coupon rates for about $15.99 billion in current domestic notes and bonds.

By investing in GTBank Ghana, GTCO disclosed that it was exposed to Ghana’s Sovereign Debt Restructuring. Additionally, the Ghanaian government has issued Eurobonds through GTBank Nigeria Limited, GTBank Sierra Leone, GTBank Liberia, and GTBank Rwanda.

The Chief Executive Officer of GTCO Plc, Segun Agbaje, said during the investors’ conference call held in Lagos last Thursday that the bank would be rethinking its lending and bond trading in Ghana and instead focus on Nigeria and other high-yielding African markets to increase lending by about 15% this year.

In its annual report, which was published last Thursday, Access Holdings Plc stated that it “took an impairment of N103.10bn in recognition of the economic loss impact of Ghana’s sovereign debt crisis (domestic debt and Eurobonds)”.

The Ghanaian government has not yet provided restructuring conditions for the Eurobonds, even though the economic loss on Ghana’s domestic debt has been calculated via a Domestic Debt Exchange scheme with clear terms.

Despite the fact that there is still some uncertainty over the reorganization criteria, the group stated that it was unlikely that there would be any additional major impairment charges.

The United Bank for Africa claimed that UBA Ghana, UBA UK, and our New York branch were responsible for its exposure to the Ghanaian debt market through investing activities. The UBA UK and New York branches of the bank were largely in the Ghana Eurobond segment, even though UBA Ghana currently maintains investments in both the domestic and Eurobond markets of Ghana.

According to the group, “Included in the N17.979bn impairment charge on investment securities was N17.280bn impairment loss attributable to Group’s exposure in Ghana investment market, which significantly lost its value due to Domestic Debt Exchange Programme launched by Government of Ghana on December 5, 2022.”

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