In Africa's most populous country, maternal and infant mortality are high. Therefore Norway supports innovative projects that are important to saving lives.

Facts about Nigeria

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Life expectancy
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GNI pr capita
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Percentage poor people (below 1.25$)
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Bilateral assistance million kroner

Bilateral assistance million kroner

Bilateral assistance million kroner

Nigeria is one of the lowest ranked countries in the living conditions index of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). With a population of 170 million, the country is the most populous in Africa. Even though the per capita gross national product is almost USD 2000, almost 70 per cent of the population lives below the poverty line. Nigeria is an important trading partner for Norway with regard to the export of fish and contracts and equipment for offshore petroleum activities.

Nigeria’s challenges are many: weak institutions and little political ability to act, extensive corruption, major differences between rich and poor and serious internal conflicts.

The human rights situation is difficult for large sections of the population. Nigeria struggles with widespread criminal, ethnic and religiously motivated violence. Terrorist actions from the Islamist group, Boko Haram, cost many lives and displace the population in the north-eastern part of Nigeria. The internal security problems also weaken Nigeria's capacity to contribute to the solution of regional conflicts.

Politically, Nigeria is marked by positioning ahead of the presidential election in February 2015 and a slowdown in reform work. President Goodluck Jonathan has, however, managed to implement some reforms during this election period. The banking and finance sector has been strengthened, an ambitious reform of the power sector has been implemented, and the Election Commission and the Human Rights Commission have been strengthened. The results of efforts to combat corruption, oil theft and the sabotage of oil pipelines have, however, been modest.

Norway's aid to Nigeria

Norway does not have any aid agreements with the authorities in Nigeria. However, it gives aid to work with maternal and child health, democracy, human rights and good governance.

It does not appear that Nigeria will achieve the UN millennium development goals, particularly with regard to health. Vaccine coverage in northern Nigeria is very low and polio is still endemic. Maternal mortality in northern Nigeria is among the highest in the world.

Norway therefore decided in 2012 to continue its cooperation with Nigeria with regard to health and entered into an agreement for NOK 30 million over a five-year period. This is part of the campaign "Saving one million lives", which was launched by the country's president.

Increased access to life-saving medicines with a focus on the health of women and children are the main elements of the initiative.

This cooperation is showing positive results. Preliminary results show that the number of births with qualified assistance has doubled and that infant mortality has been reduced by half since the start of the programme. In spite of the major challenges that areas in northern Nigeria face, the initiatives have been well implemented.

Innovation helps save lives, but what is decisive is that innovations are actually available to poor people in rural areas. Together with Nigeria, Norway has therefore led a commission that aims to improve access to 13 vital, but neglected health products that are used for maternal and child health.

Democracy, human rights and good governance

Norway supports the voluntary organisation "African Network for Environment and Economic Justice" (ANEEJ), which works in states in the Niger Delta region. The goal is to strengthen budgeting and financial management by the authorities, and create greater transparency in relation to the population. The results are better and more structured information from the states to the population and the holding of public meetings.

Norway also supports the United Nations Development Programme's (UNDP's) work to improve governance of the states in the Niger Delta region and for the development of a national peace architecture. The programme has contributed to the adoption of legislation for government procurement and the establishment of a procurement office and control entities. The programme has also contributed to the independent national Human Rights Commission being able to recruit and train human rights monitors that are to be deployed in the three states that are particularly hard hit by the conflict with Boko Haram.

The Norwegian Embassy in Nigeria has zero tolerance for corruption and has strengthened the procedures for its own operations. The two most important aid initiatives, the support through the UNDP and ANEEJ, have good governance and the reduction of corruption at the state level as key goals.

Published 28.08.2014
Last updated 16.02.2015