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COVID-19: IMF pledges $3.4bn emergency funding to Nigeria

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) will recommend the approval of $3.4 billion in emergency funding to Nigeria when the lender’s executive board meets next week; according to insider sources.

The loan, scheduled to be repaid in a maximum of five years, would be the largest allocation yet by the IMF to an African country to assist with the coronavirus pandemic.

IMF had approved a disbursement of about $1 billion to Ghana earlier this month.

The outbreak is reducing demand for and prices of Africa’s commodities; while domestic lockdowns have shuttered industries and trade.

Nigeria’s request for $3.4 billion will be considered on April 28, an IMF spokesperson said. A finance ministry spokesman declined to comment.

Hit by crashing oil prices and lockdowns, Nigeria requested the amount under the Rapid Financing Instrument; which offers funding without the strings of a full program, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is not yet public.

Nigeria also requested another $3.5 billion in total from the World Bank and the African Development Bank.

The oil producer’s economy could shrink the most in almost half a century this year after the collapse of the price of crude; which makes up more than haft of government revenues and 90% of exports.

The IMF will mobilize more than $18 billion to respond to more than 40 African countries who have requested assistance to battle the pandemic, Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said last week.

Meanwhile, the World Football Governing body, FIFA will release operational funds for 2019 and 2020, amounting to $150 million (about N60 billion); to Nigeria and other member-associations, the global football body said on Friday.

The funds will go towards cushioning the effects of COVID-19 on national football leagues around the world.

Indeed, the world football ruling body said this would be the first step of a relief plan; to help negate the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nigeria, as well as an additional 210 member-associations, would receive $500,000 each (about N200 million) in the coming days; as well as any remaining entitlements for 2019 and 2020, it added.

Equally important, the COVID-19 outbreak has brought football to a standstill. Consequently, clubs have struggled to cope with the loss of revenue.

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