By NBF News
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The Resident Representative of the Africa Development Bank (AfDB) in Nigeria, Dr Ousmane Dore, has said that the bank's 29 projects in Nigeria are worth about N234 billion (1.5 billion).

Speaking at the launch of the 10th Africa Economic Outlook in Abuja on Wednesday, Dore said the projects were spread across both the public and private sectors.

He said the report centred on the continent's macro-economic prospects, external financial flows, trade policies and regional integration, human development, political and economic governance and a thematic chapter on Africa's emerging partners.

Dore added that it covered 51 regional member states, including Nigeria, adding that it centred on key challenges facing Africa in meeting its development goals from global financial crisis.

'The focus of the portfolio has been on infrastructure and private sector development consistent with the bank's medium term strategy,'' he said. He said the bank was mindful that poverty was wide spread in providing support in the health and education sectors.

Dore said the bank recently approved credits of N78 billion (500 million dollars) to the Bank of Industry and N31 billion (200 million dollars ) to the Nigeria Export-Import Bank (NEXIM). He said the credit would be given to Small and Medium Enterprises (SME's) to promote the textile industry which would impact positively on job creation.

Dore said the bank was also engaged in other operations like the vocational education project and the Lekki road toll project in Lagos to promote public-private partnership. Also speaking, the Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Ms Arunma Oteh, said Nigeria was a strong country with the highest shareholder of about nine per cent in the AfDB.

Oteh said the pace of poverty reduction in the continent was low. The AfDB Chief Country Economist, Dr John Baffoe, in his presentation on Africa Economic Outlook on Nigeria, said the country was among the 10 fastest growing African countries in 2011.

Baffoe said Nigeria's progress in transforming the structure of its economy was slow and that the economy remained structurally imbalanced with lack of diversification.

He said the on-going reforms to diversify the economy should be fast tracked to create an enabling environment to encourage private sector development. He, however, said that corruption had been an obstacle for foreign investors in the country because a robust economic growth had not been translated into employment generation as unemployment rate remained fairly high.

'There is the need to enhance skills development particularly in the secondary and tertiary institutions to enhance employability,'' Baffoe said