Nigeria announces a welfare scheme to help the poor, that is gaining traction across Africa. From now until the end of the year, one million Nigerians will receive 5,000 naira ($16.4, 15.3 euros) a month in a bank account set up specifically to receive the assistance payments. Up to five million people should benefit by 2021.
Nigeria’s official minimum wage is 18,000 naira — not enough given the rising cost of living. The country is suffering from double-digit inflation, and 18,000 naira is enough to buy just a 50-kilogram (110-pound) bag of rice.
It is estimated this “social security net” will cost nearly 977 billion naira over three years.
The World Bank is supervising the project and has granted a loan of $500 million, but it still needs parliamentary approval, which is far from guaranteed.
Other planned welfare projects include youth training schemes, food distribution programmes in primary schools, and micro-credit initiatives for women a first in a country with a free-market tradition. But unlike elsewhere in Africa, such as in South Africa or Kenya, help is not necessarily provided to older people or the disabled. To reduce the risk of fraud, the beneficiaries are appointed by community groups, and the funds are transferred directly by the federal government into individual accounts.
A similar scheme has been rolled out in Ivory Coast, where 58 percent of the population lives in poverty despite economic growth that hit 7.8 percent last year.
Starting this month, 5,000 poor rural households will receive 36,000 CFA francs ($59, 55 euros) every quarter until 2020. The government expects 35,000 households will eventually benefit.
In Senegal, nearly 300,000 homes — or about two percent of the population — will be given state aid of up to 25,000 CFA francs each quarter, according to the government.
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