Nigeria, whose revenues have tumbled with the fall in oil prices, has asked for US$3.4 billion from the International Monetary Fund, $2.5 billion from the World Bank and US$1 billion from the African Development Bank (AfDB), Zainab Ahmed said.
Africa’s most populous country and the continent’s biggest oil producer, which is still recovering from a recession caused by the last period of weak oil prices, had 232 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus and five deaths, as of Sunday.
A two-week lockdown was imposed last week on Lagos state, home to the nation’s sprawling commercial hub, as well as neighbouring Ogun state and the capital territory of Abuja, in an effort to prevent the virus spreading across the country.
The minister told a news conference in Abuja that Nigeria was one of several African states seeking the suspension of debt-servicing obligations for 2020 and 2021 from multilateral lenders.
The requests are part of a wider debate over debt relief. But analysts say securing such relief will be a challenge as it requires winning approval from a disparate array of creditors.
The IMF, which has received requests for help from about 80 nations including 20 in Africa, is making about US$50 billion available from its emergency financing facilities to help countries cope with the crisis. The World Bank has approved a $14 billion response package.
Nigeria’s finance minister said IMF support would not be tied to a formal programme and the funds would not have conditions attached because the cash was being borrowed previous Nigerian contributions to the Fund.
“It is important to clarify that Nigeria does not intend to negotiate or enter into a formal programme with the International Monetary Fund, at this time, or in the foreseeable future,” Ahmed added.
The government said last month that spending in the US$34.6 billion budget for 2020 would have to be cut by around US$4.9 billion due to low oil prices and the impact of the pandemic, which has driven down global demand for fuel.
The minister said the budget would assume an oil price of US$30 a barrel, down from US$57, and production of 1.7 million barrels per day (bpd) rather than 2.1 million bpd.