By Racheal Ishaya/Folasade Folarin
Bali – The World Bank says it “has to take some responsibility’’ for advising Nigeria and other African countries to invest more in roads, railways and energy rather than in education and health.
The World Bank President, Mr Jim Yong Kim, made this known i, while briefing the media after the launch of the 2018 Human Capital Index (HCI), which ranked Nigeria 152nd out of 157 countries believed to be committed to investing in human capital.
Kim briefed the media on Thursday at the ongoing International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank Group (WBG) Annual Meetings in Bali, Indonesia.
“Nigeria unfortunately ranks number 152 out of 157 countries.
“We provide quite a bit of support for Nigeria in terms of health budget. But we feel that the overall spending on health is just far too low, 0.76 per cent of GDP.
“Also, the educational outcomes in Nigeria are very very poor.
“Nigeria is one of the most important countries not only in Africa, but in the world and so we feel that it will be extremely important for Nigeria to really go on a different level all together in terms of their commitment to investing in human capital.
“I think that the World Bank has to take some responsibility for having emphasised hard infrastructure, roads, rails, energy for a very long time and I think that changed 20 years ago.
“But there is still then the bias that says we will invest in hard infrastructure and then when we grow rich, we will have enough money to invest in health and education.
“We are now saying that that’s really the wrong approach, that you’ve got to start investing in your people right now.’’
HCI seeks to raise awareness and increase demand for interventions to build human capital and accelerate better and more investments in people.
Kim said that through the International Development Association, the World Bank had, since 2015 increased funding for Nigeria and other African countries towards alleviating poverty.
The message here is that Heads of State and Ministers of Finance have to take responsibility.
“What has happened is in many African countries, if they don’t receive grant-based financing, they just simply don’t spend on health and education.
“So we hope that this is a loud wake-up call for leaders throughout the African continent and especially in Nigeria.”
According to the human capital index, children born in Nigeria stand the chance of being 34 per cent as productive when they grow up as they will be if they enjoy complete education and full health.
Children in Nigeria can expect to complete 8.2 years of pre- primary, primary and secondary school by age 18.
However, when years of schooling are adjusted for quality of learning, this is only equivalent to 4.2 years, showing a learning gap of 4 years.
The World Bank report on adult survival rate across Nigeria showed that only 65 per cent of 15-year olds would survive until 60 years of age.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the 2018 Annual Meetings of the IMF and WBG brings together experts to discuss issues of global concern, including the World Economic Outlook, poverty eradication, economic development and aid effectiveness.