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World Bank to restructure $200m IDEAS project in Nigeria

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…Cancels, completes activities in project restructuring effort

By Sodiq Adelakun

The Innovation Development and Effectiveness in the Acquisition of Skills (IDEAS) Project in Nigeria, which was launched with a funding of $200 million, is set to undergo significant changes to improve its effectiveness.

The World Bank has announced plans to restructure the project, which has faced challenges in meeting its objectives. The project was approved in February 2020 to enhance the capacity of the Nigerian skills development system to produce relevant skills for the formal and informal sectors.

However, only $34.88 million has been released by the World Bank due to the poor performance of the project. The release of further funds is tied to meeting certain project criteria.

The IDEAS project, which aimed at enhancing skills acquisition in Nigeria, has shown limited progress in several key areas over the past two years.

Component 1 of the project, which focused on providing grants to federal and state colleges, was particularly affected, with unsatisfactory ratings due to incomplete workshop renovations and delayed equipment procurement.

Component 2, targeting the training of master craftspersons and apprentices, also recorded slow progress. Although other project components showed some improvement, they were still limited in scale.

The report read: “The Mid-Term Review (MTR) mission for the Project took place between October 3-28, 2023. The mission held meetings with the Federal Ministry of Education (FME), the six participating states (Abia, Benue, Edo, Ekiti, Gombe and Kano) and the selected federal and state technical colleges (TCs).

“The mission assessed the reasons for which the project has not performed as envisaged and identified adjustments and changes in project design, implementation arrangements, and resource allocations so that the project could remain relevant, be implemented effectively, and contribute to the country’s goal to produce skilled manpower for the formal and the informal sector.

“The progress towards the Project development objectives and overall implementation progress has remained slow for about two years with limited progress on each component. Component 1 providing grants to federal and state colleges continues to be rated unsatisfactory due to limited in the strengthening of technical education in priority trades.

“Workshop renovations are incomplete for 101 out of 114 targeted trades, and equipment procurement is lagging. Component 2, training master craftspersons and apprentices, is moderately unsatisfactory with slow progress. Component 3 has improved, rated moderately satisfactory, with training initiated for Technical Teachers and Instructors. Component 4 progress is moderately satisfactory, but at a limited scale.

“The project will undergo restructuring to address scalability and sustainability issues. The restructuring involves completing some activities, cancelling others, and implementing a results-based contracting fund to focus on skills training and employment for Nigerian youth.

“This fund aims to provide scalable and cost-effective skills training in priority trades, linking trainees with employers, and ensuring placement in wage employment or support for self-employment.”

In response to these setbacks, the World Bank’s restructuring of the project will involve significant adjustments. Some activities will be completed, while others will be cancelled.

A notable change is the introduction of a results-based contracting fund, which will concentrate on providing scalable and cost-effective skills training for Nigerian youth. This initiative aims to link trainees with employers, ensuring their placement in wage employment or supporting self-employment opportunities.

The restructuring process, expected to be finalised by March 2024, will also see a revision of the results framework. This includes modifying the intermediate indicators and their targets.

The restructured project will emphasise results-based contracting with both private and public service providers. These providers will be responsible for training and finding job placements for youth on a large scale, with new results indicators and targets developed to match this revised approach.

The report read: “As per MTR discussions and agreements, the project will be restructured. Accordingly, the results framework – the indicators and their targets will be revised. Because the current project activities will be wound down, both the PDO and the intermediate results indicator targets will be adjusted downwards as appropriate at project restructuring which is expected to be processed by March 2024.

“The restructured project will be built around results-based contracting of private and public service providers to train and find job placement for youth at scale – the appropriate results indicators and targets will be developed at the processing of project restructuring in March 2024.”

The World Bank’s decision is considered a crucial measure in tackling the challenges of scalability and sustainability that have impeded the project’s progress.

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FG urges NIPSS members on creative solutions to national challenge

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The Minister of Budget and Economic Planning, Atiku Bagudu, has urged members of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), to devise creative solutions to Nigeria’s social and economic challenges.

Bagudu received  participants of the Senior Executive Course 46 of the institute in his office on Monday in Abuja.

According to him, some of the issues confronting Nigeria  as a nation might require out of the box solutions.

“The NIPSS was created in the wisdom of our forefathers, to train senior management personnel that can bring unusual solutions to problems confronting us,” he said.

He urged the participants to eschew self-interest and make decisions that can assist the nation to make better choices.

Bagudu  said that the national planning function of the ministry comes from the National Planning Commission.

He said that the digital economy is one area that the ministry was looking at for mass youth engagement and economic prosperity.

“Digital economy is an evolving process.which the country will have to leverage digital for overall growth and development.

“It is a new reality. Today trading platforms are closing shop and increasingly going digital.

“Nigeria needs to respond positively and reap benefits from the digital economy. But we have to make the space safe through effective regulation.

“Some countries have data protection laws which enable them to check and regulate excesses in the digital space,” he said.

The Minister commended the law enforcement agencies for promptly going after digital platforms like Binance, which was used to disrupt the foreign exchange market and to weaken the Naira.

He also commended the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Yemi Cardoso, for his various monetary policy decisions that restored confidence in the Nigerian economy.

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Cardoso to speaks at IMF meeting on FX reforms

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The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Olayemi Cardoso will speak on foreign exchange (FX) market reforms at the ongoing International Monetary Fund (IMF) Spring Meetings on Wednesday in Washington D.C.

The meetings of the Boards of Governors of the IMF and the World Bank Group (WBG) bring together central bankers, ministers of finance and development, parliamentarians, private sector executives, representatives from civil society organisations and academics to discuss issues of global concern, including the world economic outlook, poverty eradication, economic development, and aid effectiveness.

Also featured are seminars, regional briefings, press conferences, and many other events focused on the global economy, international development, and the world’s financial system

Cardoso assumed office as the Governor of the CBN in September 2023. Since then he has introduced some new FX policies and adjusted some existing ones to ensure the stability of the naira.

According to Cardoso, the exchange rate in Nigeria has increased/depreciated due to the simultaneous occurrence of two factors: a decline in the supply of US Dollars coinciding with a surge in the demand for US dollars.

He said in February 2023 that the foreign exchange market is currently facing increased demand pressures, causing a continuous decline in the value of the naira. Factors contributing to this situation include speculative forex demand, inadequate forex supply due to non-remittance of crude oil earnings to the CBN, increased capital outflows, and excess liquidity from fiscal activities.

To address exchange rate volatility, he said a comprehensive strategy has been initiated to enhance liquidity in the FX markets.

This includes unifying FX market segments, clearing outstanding FX obligations, introducing new operational mechanisms for BDCs, enforcing the Net Open Position limit, and adjusting the remunerable Standing Deposit Facility cap.

As part of measures to control inflation and stabilise the naira, the CBN last month raised its benchmark interest rate, known as the Monetary Policy Rate (MPR) by 200 basis points to 24.75 percent from 22.75 percent in February 2024.

In her second term message, Kristalina Georgieva, IMF managing director, who was recently reappointed by the executive board of the IMF, said, “I am deeply grateful for the trust and support of the Fund’s Executive Board, representing our 190 members, and honoured to continue to lead the IMF as managing director for a second five-year term.”

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PenCom recovers N12.45bn from erring employers

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The National Pension Commission (PenCom) said it has recovered N12.45 billion from employers that failed to contribute towards their employees retirement.

The recovery would indeed help in wealth creation for the workers, thereby securing them against old age poverty in retirement.

PenCom in its 4th quarter 2024 report, said it has maintained the services of Recovery Agents (RAs) for the recovery of unremitted pension contributions and penalties from defaulting employers.

It submitted that during the quarter, the sum of N319,468,587.45 comprising principal contributions N128,176,029.95 and penalties N191,292,557.50 was recovered from 32 defaulting employers.

It noted that meanwhile, the Commission Secretariat/Legal Advisory Services Department had been requested to take legal action against 4 defaulting employers.

The pension industry regulator maintained that from the commencement of the recovery exercise in June 2012 to 31 December 2023, a total sum of N25,447,085,186.71 comprising of principal contributions N12,929,415,445.52 and penalties N12,517,669,741.19 was recovered from defaulting employers.

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