Nigeria seeks $6.9bn from lenders to fund COVID-19 fight



Nigeria is requesting $6.9bn from multilateral lenders to combat the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on Africa's biggest economy, the finance minister said on Monday.

Nigeria, whose revenues have tumbled with the fall in oil prices, has asked for $3.4bn from the International Monetary Fund, $2.5bn from the World Bank and $1bn from the African Development Bank, said Minister of Finance, Budget, and National Planning Zainab Ahmed.

Nigeria is the African continent's biggest oil producer and is still recovering from a recession caused by the last period of weak oil prices. As of Sunday, it had 232 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus and five deaths.

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, 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 broader 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 African countries, is making about $50bn available from its emergency financing facilities to help countries cope with the crisis. The World Bank has approved a $14bn 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.


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