Nigeria’s government plans to raise as much as $6.9 billion from multilateral lenders to offset the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the economy of Africa’s biggest oil producer.

The state will seek $3.4 billion from the International Monetary Fund, $2.5 billion from the World Bank and a further $1 billion from the African Development Bank, Finance Minister Zainab Ahmed told reporters Monday in the capital, Abuja. The authorities have no plans to enter into an IMF progam, she said.

The government has started talks with multilateral lenders to suspend debt repayments for this year and next, Ahmed said.

Ahmed said Nigeria was one of several African countries seeking the suspension of debt-servicing obligations for 2020 and 2021 from multilateral lenders.

She said the IMF support would not be tied to a formal programme and would not come with conditions attached since it was money Nigeria had already contributed to the Fund.

The IMF is making $50 billion available from its emergency financing facilities and some 80 countries have already asked for help, including about 20 from Africa. The World Bank has also approved a $14 billion COVID-19 response package.

Nigeria, which is Africa’s most populous country and has the continent’s largest economy, has 232 confirmed cases of coronavirus and five deaths. Lagos state, neighbouring Ogun state and the capital territory of Abuja entered a two-week lockdown last Monday aimed at stemming the spread of the virus.

Ahmed said the outbreak poses “significant threats to the Nigerian economy, the Nigerian healthcare system and even to national security”, adding that “extraordinary measures are required as the situation evolves to address these challenges”.

On Saturday the government said it planned to create a coronavirus fund to strengthen its healthcare infrastructure. Ahmed, at Monday’s news conference, said the president had approved the fund, and approval was being sought from lawmakers to borrow the money from special accounts.

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