• Saturday, April 13, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Nigeria to manage N114.35bn public debt using Commonwealth software

Nigeria’s public debt hits N97.3trn in 2023- DMO

A powerful software developed by the Commonwealth Secretariat is being deployed in Nigeria to transform how the country manages its public debt portfolio of US $114.35 billion while enhancing transparency.

At the request of the Government of Nigeria, the Commonwealth Secretariat hosted a two-week training workshop for 15 Nigerian debt managers at its headquarters in London this month.

During the workshop, participants received hands-on training on getting their debt databases ready for seamless migration to the new software, known as Commonwealth Meridian, and learned essential skills for recording, analysing, and managing various types of debt using the advanced tool.

Cyprian T. Heen, acting High Commissioner of Nigeria to the United Kingdom, opened the workshop on 5 February 2024 and described the software as a crucial tool for sound debt management practices in developing countries.

He highlighted the importance of monitoring debt liabilities to prevent escalating debt costs and risks, which hinder governments from spending on projects essential for sustainable development.

Heen said, Meridian allows borrowers to record their debt accurately and comprehensively across the full range of debt management transactions and operations. “In turn, this facilitates accurate and timely debt service payment to creditors while allowing governments to monitor their liabilities.”

Launched in 2019, Meridian replaces its predecessor, the Commonwealth Secretariat: Debt Recording and Management System (CS-DRMS), which has helped Nigeria manage its public debt since the 1990s.

The upgraded software gives managers access to real-time debt data to monitor liabilities and make informed decisions, while ensuring national financing needs are met in time and at an acceptable level of risk.

Speaking at the workshop, Ruth Kattumuri, Senior Director of the Commonwealth Secretariat’s Economic, Youth and Sustainable Development Directorate, said Nigeria is the Commonwealth’s key partner in supporting Africa’s development.

She emphasised Nigeria’s catalytic role in driving growth and sustainable development across the continent, leveraging its abundant natural resources and human capital.

Kattumuri reiterated the Commonwealth’s full support for Nigeria’s development efforts, including through the deployment of essential tools, such as Meridian.

One of the training participants, Maraizu Nwankwo, Director of the Debt Recording and Settlement Department of Nigeria’s Debt Management Office, welcomed the training initiative.

He said, “Meridian would help to address the challenges encountered by our debt officials in the use of CS-DRMS and support the Debt Management Office in meeting the increasing demand for public debt data in various forms by the stakeholders and users.”

The upgraded software is offered to Commonwealth countries as part of the Commonwealth’s debt management programme, which includes advocacy and policy advice on formulating debt management strategies.