The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Dr Zainab Ahmed, has said that the Federal Government will deploy Point-of-Sales agents for cash transfers during the National Social Safety Net Programme Scale Up.
She said this while hosting the Executive Director, Angola, Nigeria, South Africa Constituency of the World Bank Group, Ms Ayanda Dlodlo, in Abuja last week Friday.
According to the finance minister, the programme will cost $800m and will take off in 2023 immediately after the National Assembly approves it.
She said, “There is already a programme for expansion of the social safety net programme. We call it the NASSP-Scale Up. It has been approved by the bank and the Federal Executive Council and provided for in the 2023 appropriation act. What we have now is to get the National Assembly approval and it becomes active.”
The finance minister added the federal government is working on expanding the rapid response register as well as working with agents network in the banking system and other financial services for the cash transfer programme.
“We are working on having all of the database required. There is the rapid response register that has been setup and is being expanded. There is also a pipeline of agents network that has been put in place, working in the banking system and other financial services so that on the approval of the National Assembly we will be able to quickly start deploying the funds that would be disbursed by the bank,” Ahmed added.
The minister noted that the agents will be deployed so that they can reach rural communities that are not banked.
The PUNCH confirmed on the World Bank’s website that the NASSP-SU was approved by the bank on December 16, 2021, and will run till June 30, 2024.
The $800m programme is to be implemented by the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.
Figures from the Central Bank of Nigeria show that there are 1.41 million agents in the country with 1.04 million active PoS terminals as of September 2022.
A CBN document notes that nearly one in two adults do not use any formal (regulated) financial services.
It also discloses that only 47.6 million Nigerians were banked, adding that about 38.1 million were financially excluded.
Data from the National Social Safety Net Coordinating Office show that there were about 12.06 million poor and vulnerable households, which include 49.81 million individuals in its database.
In January last year, the National Coordinator, National Social Safety Nets Coordinating Office, Mr Apera Iorwa, in an exclusive interview with The PUNCH said that the Federal Government disbursed about $300m to the poor and vulnerable in its National Social Register through N5,000 cash transfers in four years.
The NASSCO was established in 2016 by the Federal Government, alongside the World Bank, to strengthen the social safety nets and social protection system in Nigeria in order to help end extreme poverty and promote shared prosperity.
The World Bank offered a credit of $500m to support the social safety net programme, which ended in June 2022.
However, Iorwa disclosed that another $800m had been approved by the World Bank to extend the support programme to 2024 in a way that would benefit 8.5 million more Nigerians.
The Executive Director, Angola, Nigeria, South Africa Constituency of the World Bank Group, Ms Ayanda Dlodlo, who was received by the finance minister, said that a great deal of work needs to be done to address food insecurity and poor power supply in the country.
She said, “There is a lot of work that still needs to be done on things like food security, ensuring that there is access to electricity, and I think this is just a global African problem. Almost 600 million people in the continent have no access to electricity, and electricity always is a catalyst for economic growth and development for any nation.”