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Nigeria’s $100B SDG financing deal: Fantasy or reality?

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Given the low and diminishing foreign exchange inflow (into Nigeria) owing to motely challenges confronting the crude oil industry as well as the lingering scary security situation in the country, the pursuit of SDGs is obviously not backed by the requisite resources.



Nigeria’s $100B SDG Financing Deal: Fantasy or Reality?
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By Marcel Okeke
Recently, the Federal Government of Nigeria launched the Integrated National Financing Framework (INFF) for Sustainable Development, joining more than 40 other countries in Sub-Saha­ran Africa (SSA) who have adopted the INFF.

The INFF is aimed at en­hancing the capacity of governments and their partners in deploying more in­tegrated approaches to financing that strengthen the alignment between public and private investments and longer-term sustainable development objectives while overcoming existing impediments to financing sustainable development at the national level.

The INFF which was launched on the margins of the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, is a planning and deliv­ery tool to finance sustainable development at the national level. The INFF is to help policymakers lay out a strategy to increase investments for sustainable development, manage financial and non-financial risks, and ultimately achieve sustainable development priorities.

It is also intended to help governments and their partners to build more integrated approaches to financing to strengthen the alignment between public and private investments as well as achieve lon­ger-term sustainable development objectives while building greater coherence across the governance of public and private financing pol­icies.

To steer the implementation process, Nigeria has set up an INFF steering committee chaired by the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Plan­ning (MFBNP), represented by the Minister of State in the ministry, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Chairman of the Governors’ Forum, Director-General of the Budget Office of the Federation, Director-General of the Debt Management Office and the Statistician-General/CEO of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

It must be noted that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development presents an ambitious, complex and interconnected vision that requires the mobilisation of a diverse range of public and private resources. In Nigeria, about US$332 billion is needed to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

As such, the Integrated National Financing Framework (INFF) and Sustainable Development are intended to help the Government explore innovative financing options that will link government with private sector and development partners to increase public revenue and private in­vestments.

It is also strongly believed that the INFF will bring together multiple financing reforms within a coherent overarching framework to help the government prioritise, avoid overlaps, and address synergies across reform areas. The INFF will be particularly valuable in light of the new challenges that have arisen due to the COVID-19 pandemic, including wide-spreading hunger, poverty and insecurity across nations.

For Nigeria, however, the adoption/launch of the INFF barely eight years to the expiration of the SDGs (in 2030) and six months to end of the tenure of the Government in power hardly raises much hope. Given the low and diminishing foreign exchange inflow (into Nigeria) owing to motely challenges confronting the crude oil industry as well as the lingering scary security situation in the country, the pursuit of SDGs is obviously not backed by the requisite resources.

Neither the local investors nor their foreign counterparts (nor even the ‘traditional’ partners) currently have sufficient confidence to commit/invest resources in Nigeria.

Year-in-year-out, Nigeria keeps running huge budget deficit, and goes to borrow locally and offshore—from all manner of sources. This penchant and propensity has pushed the country into a fast complicating ‘debt trap’—such that Nigeria today uses every available opportunity and channel to be asking for debt forgiveness and/or rescheduling.

Even in the 2023 proposed budget, Nigeria will have to borrow N8.80 trillion, almost half of the entire budget size (of N20.51 trillion) to finance the deficit of N10.78 trillion. At the ongoing 2022 IMF/World Bank Annual Meeting in Washington D.C., the Nigerian delegation is already sending the ugly signal to the rest of the world—namely, that the country is ‘cash strapped’ and almost insolvent.

In recent times, capital importation into the country has been consistently diminishing—showing that all manner of investments and/or repatriations into the country is drying up.


At the background of this scenario is the poor enabling business environment—which has wittingly or unwittingly caused the exodus or relocation of not a few business entities from Nigeria to other African countries and beyond. Indeed, today in Nigeria the escalation of production and operating costs for businesses, leading to the erosion of profit margins, drop in sales, decline in turnover and weak manufacturing capacity utilization that have remained the painful lot of businesses.

This trend sends scary signals to prospective and existing local and foreign investors; and yet, given the precarious fiscal profile of Nigeria over the past few years, much of the resources for funding the SDGs under the INFF are expected to come from the private sector and ‘traditional partners’

It is apposite to point out that the apparent divergence between the Federal Government’s policies and those of subnational governments often result to distasteful consequences for businesses. There are issues of duplication of taxes and levies demanded from businesses by the three tiers of government.

Poor and/or non-enforcement of legal rights and biased adjudication of business matters have left many investors with the only option of fleeing from Nigeria in frustration. Cases in point include the messed up Virgin Atlantic Airline entry into Nigeria aviation business and the ongoing face-off between the Kogi State Government and the Dangote Cement (at Obajana)—with the state government suddenly waking up to fault the mode, volume and authenticity of the investment of the leading local investor in the cement firm—many years after the deal was sealed.

So far, the Federal Government seems to have stayed aloof, but the import of the Kogi State—Dabgote Cement brouhaha will really have far-reaching consequences, especially on the attraction and retention of viable local and foreign investors. Which investor or partner will be funding the SDGs in Nigeria, when they are not sure of the fate of their investment in time to come?

The recent exodus of many International Oil Companies (IOCs) from Nigeria and the manner in which some of them were frustrated in the process of exiting, using ‘legal chains’ and ‘forced’ to remain in the country obviously sent an ugly signal to the outside world. Also, the multiplex challenges in the management of Nigeria’s scarce foreign exchange have turned a deterrent to not a few foreign direct investors (FDIs) and foreign portfolio investors (FPIs)—especially with what most foreign airlines operating in the country had to go through recently to retrieve their huge ‘trapped’ sales income in Nigeria.

All these have projected poor outlook to the investing public (local and foreign) regarding what awaits them—should they invest in Nigeria. This ugly prospect is also compounded by the notorious lack of accountability and transparency among the bureaucracy in Nigeria—a situation that has frustrated or scared away many intending investors over the years.

So, how will the investors and partners under the INFF (if they show up) be treated to achieve the lofty goals of the SDGs? One therefore hopes that the launching of the INFF by Nigeria in faraway New York is not a charade—a mere showmanship at the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA)!


  • Mr. Okeke, an economist, sustainability expert and business strategy consultant, writes for National Daily. He can be reached at: [email protected]

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