By Onu Okorie
The World Bank says that it has approved $750 million facility for the Nigeria State Action on Business Enabling Reforms SABER Program-for-Results.
This was revealed in a statement made available to the media in Abuja during the weekend.
The statement also explained that the $750 million International Development Association IDA credit will help Nigeria accelerate the implementation of critical actions that will improve the business enabling environment in states.
Nigeria has made progress in advancing reforms to eliminate constraints in the business environment, especially through actions driven by the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council PEBEC.
However, Nigeria’s ability to attract domestic and foreign investment remains low compared to its peers. Nigeria’s 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory FCT are capable to catalyze private investment but vary significantly in their efforts and ability to do so.
Given the importance of state-level reforms, the government developed a new program—SABER—to accelerate the implementation of critical actions that improve the business enabling environment in Nigeria’s states.
The government’s SABER program builds on the successes of PEBEC. It aims to strengthen the existing PEBEC-National Economic Council subnational interventions by adding incentives, namely results-based financing to the states, and the delivery of wholesale technical assistance–available to all states–to support gaps in reform implementation.
The Program-for-Results supports the most critical state-level business enabling reforms of the government’s SABER program.
The program is open to all states in Nigeria and FCT, given their ability to take concrete steps towards addressing major business-enabling environment challenges around land administration, regulatory framework for private investment in fiber optic infrastructure, public-private partnerships (PPP) and investment promotion frameworks and services, and business enabling regulatory environment.
“Following the significant progress made by states on fiscal reforms through the State Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability SFTAS program, the SABER program endeavors to offer similar support to the states to undertake critical business-enabling policy and institutional actions that will incentivize private sector development,” said Shubham Chaudhuri, World Bank Country Director for Nigeria. “Private sector investments remain the major vehicle to create more jobs, increase revenues to the states and improve social and economic outcomes for citizens.”
The program is in line with Nigeria’s National Development Plan NDP that sets an ambitious strategy to pursue sustained private sector-led economic growth that is aimed at generating 21 million full-time jobs and lifting 35 million people out of poverty by 2025.
SABER will support states to improve the efficiency of land administration, the regulatory framework for private investment in fiber optic infrastructure, the services provided by investment promotion agencies and PPP units, and the efficiency and transparency of government-to-business services.
“Overall, the SABER program looks to consolidate and deepen business enabling environment reforms across more states,” said Bertine Kamphuis, Task Team Leader for SABER.
“The use of the Program-for-Results model, which ensures disbursement of funds after achieving results, helps the government in strengthening its own program by incentivizing institutional performance at the state level through results-based financing.
States will be responsible for achieving the program results and thus will be leading the implementation of the program.”