Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group, says the Nigeria spends less than one per cent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on healthcare.
Acknowledging that the fall in the price of crude oil in the international market has adversely affected the Nigerian economy, Kim advised President Muhammadu Buhari to invest more on human capacity development which is certain to ensure sustainable economic growth in the long run.
Kim noted that at Buhari’s request, the World Bank is focusing majority of its activities in Northern Nigeria, a region he admitted has been very difficult to work in.
“You know, in my very first meeting with President Buhari he said specifically that he would like us to shift our focus to the northern region of Nigeria and we’ve done that. Now, it has been very difficult. The work there has been very difficult,” Kim said during a press conference in Washington, United States of America.
“I think Nigeria, of course, has suffered from the dropping oil prices. I think things are just now getting better. But the conversation we need to have with Nigeria, I think, is in many ways related to the theme that I brought to the table just this past week, which is investment in human capital.
“The percentage of the Gross Domestic Product that Nigeria spends on healthcare is less than one percent.
“Despite that, there is so much turbulence in the northern part of the country, and there is the hit that was taken from the drop in the oil prices.
“Nigeria has to think ahead and invest in its people. Investing in the things that will allow Nigeria to be a thriving, rapidly growing economy in the future is what the country has to focus on right now.
“Focusing on the northern part of Nigeria, we hope that as commodity prices stabilise and oil prices come back up, the economy will grow a bit more. But very, very much important is the need to focus on what the drivers of growth in the future will be.”
Kim also said that the World Bank is investing in human capital development across the Africa continent so as to prepare it for the next phase of economic growth.
At a separate press conference in Washington, Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, IMF, said though Sub-Saharan African countries, including Nigeria, has recorded some economic growth recently, it was too small considering the potential of the countries in the region.
“The Sub-Saharan Africa is one region of the world where growth is suboptimal. Those countries grow at an average growth of 2.5 per cent. That is too low for the demographic expansion of the region,” Lagarde said.
She added that the IMF will meet with Finance Ministers and central bank governors from the region to brainstorm on how they could boost and stabilise economic growth.