PAULETTE ORJIME, Abuja
NIGERIA may become the regional operational hub of the 43-year old Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) in Africa, as the development finance institution is considering a proposal to expand its existing country gateway office in Abuja to serve as a key regional office.
A statement made available to Daily Champion on Wednesday in Abuja, signed by Mr. Salisu Na’inna Dambatta, Director, Information, said the office, which was opened by the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun earlier in the year, will coordinate the operations of the Bank in its West and Central African member-countries, which constitute a majority of the 27 African countries in the Institution.
The Abuja gateway office will serve Nigeria, Gabon, Niger, Mozambique, Barkina Faso, the Republic of Cameroon, Uganda, Senegal, Djibouti, Guinea Bisaau, among others.
The move is part of a five-year reform package unfolded by the President of the Islamic Development Bank, Dr. Bandar Mohammed Hajjar, at the opening ceremony of the 42nd meeting of the Bank in Jeddah Tuesday night.
He said decentralization by opening of regional offices would take the Bank closer to member countries to enhance communication, improve its efficiency and performance in its operations.
“We have completed an extensive study of decentralization that included field visits to some development institutions that applied this approach to maximize benefits and avoid draw-backs. Greater powers would be devolved on regional offices to support them with specialized staff and the transfer there of many operations from the main centre,” he said.
The President of the IsDB explained that the Bank would enhance the development impact of its projects and programmes through comprehensive development solutions that integrate services and products in its member-countries
Hajjar said that while financing infrastructure projects (energy, water, universities, ports and airports) is part of the new focus of the Bank, the reform would vigorously “seek new partners and transform competitors into development partners by harnessing strength and comparative advantages of the Bank.”
The Bank took off in 1974 and its main objectives were to finance development projects in various social and economic fields, reduce poverty and ignorance among the 1.7 billion citizens of the 57 member countries of the institution.
Nigeria is an active member of the Bank and had benefitted from its development financing programmes located in various parts of the country, and only recently Governors of the Northern States and the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu visited its headquarters in Jeddah where they discussed areas in which the Bank could intervene in different sectors of social and economic development.
The Nigerian delegation to the 2017 meeting of the Bank was led by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Finance, Dr. Mahmoud Isa-Dutse.