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Nigeria seeks closing date extension for $500 million COVID-19 loans from World Bank 

The Nigerian government has formally approached the World Bank for a deadline extension of a substantial $500 million loan initially earmarked for COVID-19 response efforts.

This request underscores the country’s ongoing commitment to fully utilize the funds towards pandemic preparedness and response, aiming for an extension from a revised deadline of February 29, 2024, to June 30, 2024. 

A document from the World Bank elucidates the rationale behind this move, highlighting the significant progress Nigeria has made in its COVID-19 response, particularly in surpassing the ambitious target of 70% vaccination coverage among the eligible population. 

Central to this extension appeal is the need for adequate time to wrap up the project’s implementation phase and ensure its orderly conclusion. 

The formal request for this extension, detailed in a government letter referenced F11373/S.34/C/4028/VOL.1/126 dated October 27, 2023, and received on November 1, 2023, proposes a four-month prolongation to accommodate the comprehensive wrap-up of project activities. 

The World Bank document noted: 

Initiated with the World Bank Board of Executive Directors’ approval on August 6, 2020, and becoming effective on March 15, 2021, the Nigeria COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Project was designed to bolster the country’s capacity to prevent, detect, and respond to the COVID-19 threat at the state level.

Funded through an International Development Association (IDA) credit of approximately $100 million and a Pandemic Emergency Financing (PEF) facility grant of $14.28 million, the project aimed to enhance Nigeria’s strategic and operational readiness against the pandemic. 

An additional $400 million was later approved to support the acquisition and deployment of COVID-19 vaccines, emphasizing the project’s dual focus on emergency response and sustained management, coordination, and monitoring of the evolving situation. 

The document read: 

The project’s progress towards its development objectives has been assessed as Moderately Satisfactory, with significant achievements in key areas, including surpassing the target for COVID-19 vaccination coverage among adults aged 18 years and older, achieving 71.62% as of December 31, 2023.

This accomplishment reflects a broader vaccination effort, reaching 37.5% of the general population and closely aligning with the project’s overall target. 

The document read: 

Despite existing challenges, the project has recorded notable successes, including the management of confirmed COVID-19 cases and fatalities across the country.

Both procurement and financial management aspects of the project have been operating effectively, with moderate risk levels and satisfactory overall implementation progress.  

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