The International Monetary Fund IMF has approved $3.4 billion (N1.598 trillion) as emergency funding to Nigeria, the single biggest disbursement for any country yet with the coronavirus pandemic.

The request was made under the Rapid Financing Instrument, which offers funding without the strings of a full programme.

In a statement, IMF deputy MD Mitsuhiro Furusawa said the pandemic and the plunge in oil prices are severely impacting Nigeria, and that the funds will provide much-needed liquidity to respond to urgent balance of payments needs. He also called for the country to expedite the unification of its exchange rate.

Hit by crashing oil prices and lockdowns to curb the spread of the virus, Nigeria requested the amount under the Rapid Financing Instrument, which offers funding without the strings of a full programme.

The continent’s biggest crude producer also requested $3.5 billion in total from the World Bank and the African Development Bank.

“The IMF will mobilise more than $18 billion to respond to more than 40 African countries who have requested assistance to battle the pandemic, MD Kristalina Georgieva said on April 17. The lender could get funds to Nigeria by the end of the month”, she said on Monday.

It was gathered that the funds could get to the receiving nation by Thursday this week.

The lender has now approved more than $7 billion in emergency financing to help nations on the continent battle the pandemic, which has almost halted global trade and triggered massive capital outflows.

South Africa, which vies with Nigeria to be the region’s biggest economy, is counting on receiving $4.2 billion from the IMF that it is eligible for and will meet with the lender this week