Jim Yong Kim, World Bank President, has said the organisation was wrong to have advised Nigeria, and Africa as a whole, to focus on investing in hard infrastructure than in human capital.
Speaking at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank Group (WBG) Annual Meetings in Bali, Indonesia, Kim said its approach of pumping funds into road and infrastructure as opposed to putting money in health and education was the fault of the global money lender. He, however, noted that African leaders were unwilling to invest in their people, if there was no grant.
Kim’s address came on the heels of the WBG’s announcement that Nigeria was ranked 152 of 157 countries in its Human Capital Index.
He said: “We provide quite a bit of support for Nigeria in terms of health budget, but we feel that the overall spending on health is just far too low, 0.76 per cent of GDP. Also, the educational outcomes in Nigeria are very poor.
“Nigeria is one of the most important countries not only in Africa, but in the world and so we feel that it will be extremely important for Nigeria to really go on a different level all together in terms of their commitment to invest in human capital. I think that the World Bank has to take some responsibility for having emphasised hard infrastructure, roads, rails, energy for a very long time and I think that changed 20 years ago.
“But there is still then the bias that says we will invest in hard infrastructure and then when we grow rich, we will have enough money to invest in health and education.
“We are now saying that that’s really the wrong approach, that you’ve got to start investing in your people right now."