Nigeria is a development partner to numerous developing countries particularly those within Africa. Based on its economic power, high human capital, and the robustness of its foreign policy in the region, Nigeria is well endowed to be a notable development assistance provider. The country’s development assistance programme borders mainly around offering economic, military, and political support other African countries.
Economically, Nigeria offers concessional finance and technical assistance to developing countries. Under the Nigeria Trust Fund (NTF), created by an agreement between the Nigerian government and the African Development Bank, the public and private sector in low income countries in Africa can obtain up to US$ 10 million per project in concessional loans. While the Funds initial capital of US$ 80 million was replenished in 1981 with US$ 71 million, its total assets reached US$ 239.6 million in 2015. Militarily, it has sent peacekeeping missions to Congo, Liberia and Sierra Leone, and provided training to Gambian and Tanzanian military. With over 200,000 troops participating in various UN peacekeeping operations, Nigeria is among the largest contributors of military and civilian personnel for UN peacekeeping. It has also served as Africa’s representative at the UN and the Organization of African Unity (OAU).
While Nigeria has not established a development cooperation agency, there are specialized institutions within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that serve as the main entry points for developing countries to seek assistance. In 1987, the Directorate of Technical Aid Corp (DTAC) was established to provide technical and capacity support to countries in the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific region. Funded through the federal government budget, DTAC has deployed over 306,000 Nigerian professionals to sectors in recipient countries with capacity gaps such as universities and the judiciary. Further, the Government established the Directorate of Technical Assistance Cooperation (DTAC) in 2001 to build priority development areas including education, health, and climate change in African countries. The programme is funded by the National Technical Cooperation Fund – a US$ 25 million facility draw from the NTF and the largest single bilateral fund created by an African country at the African Development Bank. As at March 2017, the Fund had approved 93 projects and disbursed US$ 20.9 million for use across several African countries.
Aside the Government, non-state actors are playing a more proactive role in development assistance across the continent. High-Net Worth Individuals, corporate organizations, and faith-based organizations, through their foundations, are supporting programmes in key sectors in other African countries. For instance, the Tony Elumelu Foundation’s Entrepreneurship Programme, which was founded in 2015, has committed US$ 100 million to empower 10,000 African entrepreneurs within 10 years through the provision of finance and mentorship programmes. Between 2015 and 2017, 15% of the programmes beneficiaries created 3,728 jobs and generated US$ 25.8 million in revenue.
The utilization of well-established systems to coordinate assistance by the state and the growth in non-governmental development assistance programmes points to the advancement of development assistance in Nigeria. It is in enhancing the means to strengthen development cooperation that Nigeria positions itself as a regional leader in Africa.