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The Gambia benefits from World Bank’s $68m grant to revive tourism industry

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The Gambia and the World Bank have sealed a $68m grant deal which will go to support the West African country’s tourism industry, hitherto the biggest contributor to its Gross Domestic Product (GDP), before the Coronavirus pandemic hit the global tourism sector, causing a near economic meltdown.

World Bank’s Managing Director of Operations, Axel Van Trotsenburg, who announced the signing of the deal at a ceremony in Gambia’s capital, Banjul, on Tuesday, said the grant is meant to support the diversification and climate resilience of the country’s tourism after the pandemic and economic crisis.

Trotsenburg added that promoting the diversification and climate resilience of tourism will help protect the Atlantic coastline of The Gambia from the effects of climate change.

About 20 per cent of The Gambian economy depends on earnings from its tourism as it is the largest foreign exchange earner for the government but the advent of the pandemic had caused the country’s economic growth to contract by 0.2 percent in 2020, according to the World Bank.

This was as a result of the global restrictions on travelling between 2020 and 2021, which prevented tourists and visitors going to the country, leading to the tourism industry taking a huge hit.

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Nigeria: President Buhari makes U-turn on approval of Exxon unit acquisition by Seplat

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Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has made a U-turn in his earlier position that grant approval of Exxon Mobil’s  sale of local offshore shallow water assets to Seplat.

President Buhari had on Monday approved the $1.28 billion transaction, only for the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission to say it opposed the deal, although it did not give a reason.

Presidential spokesman Garba Shehu, told newsmen that “the president has decided to allow the regulator to do their work. He is withholding his earlier given approval, for now, to allow the process to be completed, that is basically it.”

In February, Seplat Energy Plc, unveiled plans to acquire the entire share capital of Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited (MPNU) from Exxon Mobil Corporation Delaware (USA Incorporated). That includes all of Exxon’s entire shallow water assets in the Niger Delta.

Seplat on its side said it is yet to received no official notification of President Buhari’s U-turn and is seeking clarification from authorities.

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Nigeria climbs to fourth position on World Bank’s list of most indebted nations

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Nigeria has moved into the fourth position of World Bank’s list of countries with the highest debts, according to the Bank’s financisl report released on Monday.

Going by the World Bank Fiscal Year 2022 audited financial statements for International Development Association (IDA), Nigeria now owes a debt stock of $13bn as at June 30, 2022.

The country also moved up one spot from the fifth position it was rated as of June 30, 2021, with an IDA debt stock of $11.7bn.

The global bank also revealed in its audited financial statements that Nigeria has accumulated about $1.3bn IDA debt within a fiscal year, adding that the debt is different from the outstanding loan of $486m from the World Bank’s International Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

What this means is that Nigeria now has the highest IDA debt in Africa, and is only bettered by the likes India with $19.7bn debt, Bangladesh, $18bn
and Pakistan, $15.8bn, all from the Asian bloc.

The Washington-based international Financial Institution also disclosed that Nigeria’s debt which may be considered sustainable for now, is fast growing into a state of vulnerability and could become costly.

“Nigeria’s debt remains sustainable, albeit vulnerable and costly, especially due to large and growing financing from the Central Bank of Nigeria,” it said.

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