Nigeria Becomes Africa’s Largest Economy

Nigeria Becomes Africa's Largest Economy
Nigeria also has Africa’s largest population

AFRICANGLOBE – Nigeria’s recalculated economy is worth $510 billion, by far the biggest in Africa, officials announced Sunday using long overdue revised data that gives the West African nation continental bragging rights.

The new value of Nigeria’s GDP adds previously uncounted industries like telecommunications, information technology, music, airlines, burgeoning online retail outlets and Nollywood film production that didn’t exist when the last GDP count was made in 1990.

Then, there were 300,000 landlines. Today, Nigeria has 100 million cell phone users.

The new figures also will take account of growth in agriculture and tourism that have flourished since democracy was restored in 1999, ending decades of military dictatorship.

With one fell swoop, Nigeria knocked out of the ring South Africa, whose GDP of $353 billion was previously counted the biggest on the continent and which is the only African member of the G20.

“Nigeria’s success is a reminder that Africa is moving ahead despite its current challenges,” said investment manager Kevin Daly of UK-based Aberdeen Asset Management, which invests in Africa. He pointed out that it is a Nigerian, billionaire Aliko Dangote, who is building Africa’s largest privately owned oil refinery.

Investors’ attention will be drawn by the fact that while oil remains the biggest source of government revenue, about 80 percent, oil production is declining while Nigeria’s agriculture, communications and service sectors are enjoying healthy growth.

Nigeria has been Africa’s biggest drawer of direct foreign investment despite myriad woes, from massive corruption and oil thefts costing the country some $20 million a day to a terrorist uprising in the northeast that has killed more than 1,200 people so far this year, to a paralytic electricity supply that keeps businesses dependent on diesel-run generators.

Finance Minister Ngozi Ikonjo-Iweala told a news conference Sunday that the new data makes Nigeria the 26th largest economy in the world and raises its per capita income to $2,688, making it No. 121 in the world, up from No. 135.

That is still feeble compared to South Africa’s $7,336 for its population of 48 million. South Africa, bedeviled by mining strikes, protests over services and a lackluster performance that has kept annual growth at around 3.5 percent, still has infrastructure unrivaled on the continent, most notably a power sector that generates 10 times more electricity than Nigeria.

Nigeria’s revised figures will lower its much-vaunted growth rate of 7 percent but also will decrease an already low debt to GDP ratio of 21 percent, which should lower interest rates should the government want to borrow more, economists said.

Ikonjo-Iweala blamed decades of military rule for the delay in repositioning Nigeria’s economy, but the country is not alone. Ghana’s economy jumped by 60 percent when it recalculated its goods and services production in 2012, and Kenya and Zambia are considering the same.

Ikonjo-Iweala has said that Nigeria’s economy needs to grow at about 10 percent to address massive poverty and youth unemployment. Government statistics say unemployment increased from 12.7 percent in 2007 to 23.9 percent in 2011; the World Bank says unemployment among young Nigerians stands at 38 percent but analysts say it is as high as 80 percent in many parts of the country.


By: Michelle Faul

19th Nigeria Economic Summit Documentary

  • Lamotte I have mentioned the name of the person I am directing my reply to it is Ephrem Abate, who does not want to believe that this is a reallity because of corruption he mentions, Nigeria has worked hard to be where they are I think we have to give them what is due to them – CONGRATULATIONS !!!

  • I not particularly measuring Nigeria against South Africa because to me, it Africa.

  • Ephrem Abate – The good figures put them on the map, I am hearing a lot about Nigeria being a corrupt country, how are you guys measuring that, because as far as I know every country is corrupt, mine too, but as citizens those are the factors we wish our counties could do away with, more especially in Africa – corruption is dragging us down big time.

  • Congratulations to Nigeria, if the infrastructure could be in line, they can do far better than us, because I think the most revenues are from the oil, there is lot that is couting in their favor the population, which is 3 times of ours, and intrrepreneurship I take off my hat to them – I am so proud to be an African.

  • my country still needs to get its shit together….

  • I doubt, the most corrupt country like Nigeria is moving ahead, this reminded me the recent unfortunate death during thousands of people for a few vacancies job opportunities, if that is the case, please stop fooling !

  • CONGRATULATION NIGERIA!! You stood your ground against colonialism and now you are on your way to total liberation! Pray for African descents in America!