Nigeria in talks with Islamic bank for infrastructure finance

By Felix Onuah

ABUJA (Reuters) – Nigerian President Bola Tinubu met top officials of the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) to negotiate a “multi-billion dollar infrastructure finance facility” to help build ports and power plants, his spokesperson said on Tuesday.

Tinubu held talks with IsDB vice president Mansur Muhtar late on Monday in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, spokesperson Ajuri Ngelale said in a statement. He didn’t provide further details of the finance package sought by the Nigerian government.

“We have serious deficits in port infrastructure, power infrastructure, and agro-allied facilities,” Tinubu said in the statement.

“These deficits present unrivalled opportunity for savvy investors in a market that is by far the largest on the continent,” he said.

On Friday, Nigeria agreed to a series of investments and cooperation deals with Saudi Arabia, including a pledge by the Saudi government to make a “substantial deposit” of foreign exchange to help boost Nigeria’s forex liquidity.

Under Tinubu, Nigeria has embarked on its boldest reforms in decades, ending a costly petrol subsidy and restrictions on foreign currency trading as part of measures to boost economic growth.

Tinubu, who was sworn into office in May, has pledged to revive the economy fraught with sluggish growth, double-digit inflation, foreign currency shortages, and widespread insecurity and crude oil theft.

Muhtar said the IsDB is ready to work with the government to support big investments in Nigeria, which is expected to get a “significant share” of a $50 billion Africa investment fund announced by the bank in cooperation with the Arab Coordination Group.

The Jeddah, Saudi Arabia-based IsDB is a multilateral development bank that provides financing for infrastructure and other development projects in Muslim-majority countries.

(Reporting by Felix Onuah; Writing by Elisha Bala-Gbogbo; Editing by Christina Fincher)