The World Bank and the French Development Agence (AFD) have signed a tripartite agreement with the Federal Government of Nigeria to commit a total sum of $575 million to rural road construction in 13 states in Nigeria.
The agreement will see 53,730km of rural roads constructed between March 2021 to 2026.
Aminu Muhammed, the National Coordinator, Rural Access and Agricultural Marketing Project, said 12 of the 13 states marked for the project had received initial take-off disbursement.
Muhammed, who attended a two-week ‘3rd Implementation Support Review Mission’ meeting in Abuja on Friday, said the project will ensure the construction of 5,921 rural roads.
Muhammed said, “The initial target of this special rural road intervention is to construct a total number of 5,921, summing up to 53,730km, to return prosperity to the farmers across strata and gender, with youth and women being the primary target. Ultimately, an elite club of farmers would emerge and a new crop of successful market men and women would take over the business world.”
Others at the event were Task Team Lead for World Bank’s Transport Sector, Olatunji Ahmed; AFD’s TTL, Mr Francois Giroudy; Project Manager, AFD, Antonio Le Bihan; and representative of the Project Coordinating Unit, Kush Peter.
Muhammed added that the International Labour Organisation (ILO) had also expressed interest in the project and readiness to offer both technical and financial assistance, stating that the World Bank would fast-track “no objection” for the ILO intervention.
Zambia’s Finance Minister Faces Dual Challenge in Upcoming Budget Address
As Zambia’s Finance Minister, Situmbeko Musokotwane, prepares to present the nation’s budget, he finds himself at a pivotal crossroads.
The second-largest copper producer in Africa is grappling with two pressing concerns: debt sustainability and soaring living costs.
Debt Restructuring Dilemma: Musokotwane’s foremost challenge is finalizing the $6.3 billion debt-restructuring deal with official creditors, led by China and France.
Delays have hindered disbursements from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and left private creditors in limbo.
To reassure investors, a memorandum of understanding with the official creditor committee is urgently needed.
President Hakainde Hichilema emphasizes the importance of sealing these transactions to signal closure on this tumultuous chapter.
Plummeting Tax Revenue: The key copper-mining industry, which accounts for 70% of Zambia’s export earnings, is in turmoil.
First-half mining company taxes and mineral royalty collections have nosedived, adding to economic woes.
This, in turn, has depreciated the local currency, exacerbating imported inflation, particularly in fuel prices.
Rising Food Inflation: Musokotwane faces mounting political pressure to combat soaring living costs, with annual inflation reaching an 18-month high of 12%. Corn meal prices, a staple in Zambia, have surged by a staggering 67% in the past year.
Neighboring countries’ demand for corn has led to smuggling and further price spikes, raising concerns about food security.
Currency Woes: The kwacha’s value has been a barometer for the nation’s economic health. It depreciated by 16% since June 22, the worst performance among African currencies, reflecting the ongoing debt-restructuring uncertainty.
In his budget address, Musokotwane faces the daunting task of striking a balance between debt management, economic stability, and alleviating the burden on Zambia’s citizens.
The international community will keenly watch to see if his fiscal measures can steer the nation toward a path of recovery and prosperity.
IMF Urges Sub-Saharan African Nations to Eliminate Tax Exemptions for Fiscal Health
Sub-Saharan African countries have been advised by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to tackle their fiscal deficits by focusing on eliminating tax exemptions and bolstering domestic revenue rather than resorting to fiscal expenditure cuts, which could hamper economic growth.
The IMF conveyed this recommendation in a paper titled ‘How to avoid a debt crisis in Sub-Saharan Africa.’
The IMF’s paper emphasizes that Sub-Saharan African nations should reconsider their overreliance on expenditure cuts as a primary means of reducing fiscal deficits. Instead, they should place greater emphasis on revenue-generating measures such as eliminating tax exemptions and modernizing tax filing and payment systems.
According to the IMF, mobilizing domestic revenue is a more growth-friendly approach, particularly in countries with low initial tax levels.
The paper highlights success stories in The Gambia, Rwanda, Senegal, and Uganda, where substantial revenue increases were achieved through a combination of revenue administration and tax policy reforms.
The IMF also pointed out that enhancing the participation of women in the labor force could significantly boost Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in developing countries.
The IMF estimates that raising the rate of female labor force participation by 5.9 percentage points, which aligns with the average reduction in the participation gap observed in the top 5% of countries during 2014-19, could potentially increase GDP by approximately 8% in emerging and developing economies.
In a world grappling with the weakest medium-term growth outlook in over three decades, bridging the gender gap in labor force participation emerges as a vital reform that policymakers can implement to stimulate economic revival.
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