Boost Social Spending, Lift Nigerians Off Poverty, Sustain Growth, Gates Tells FG

Picture: Nigeria’s Finance Minister, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun welcoming the Co-Chair of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Mr. Bill Gates, to the Federal Ministry of Finance during a meeting on vaccine financing and support for Nigeria’s fiscal agenda in Abuja on Thursday, 22nd March, 2018.

Billionaire co-founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates, on Thursday in Abuja urged the Federal Government to boost its investment in social infrastructure as a way of lifting the mass of Nigeria’s population out of poverty and enable them achieve a higher income status.
In an interview with Reuters, Gates said that his Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has committed $1.6bn so far in Nigeria to fund pilot projects targeted at healthcare, agriculture and financial inclusion, its biggest investment in Africa.
But the government needs to boost spending.
That, he noted after addressing the National Economic Council, Nigeria’s highest economic policy advisory body in Abuja, “is what drives the country towards self-sufficiency.”
Nigeria remains a low-income country and investment in infrastructure has not kept pace with a rapidly rising population, let alone spending on health and education.
Gates told the council that neglecting investment in human capital would limit how much the country can grow, even as it is set to become third most populous nation in the world by 2050 with around 400 million people.
Some economists see the births of 11,000 Nigerians every day as new consumers feeding an engine of prosperity, but others fear they will create a crisis of poverty and unrest.
Nigeria emerged from its worst recession in a quarter century last year and launched a reform programme to rebuild its finances.
Gates said his foundation was pushing vaccination against polio in conflict-hit northeast Nigeria and Chad. Nigeria has had one case in the last two years.
“We want childhood death to go down, we want malnutrition to go down, we want malaria deaths to go down and we want agricultural productivity to go up,” he said.