Before I go into my post I’d like to wish the safe return of the 234 Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram – this devastating act doesn’t in my opinion seem to be getting the focus that it should be, however God is in control. #bringbackourgirls
Nigeria replaced South Africa as the Largest Economy in Africa, after the government revamped the way they calculated the GDP of the country. the figure now stands at $510bn, nearly double the $260bn amount provided in 2012. This is down to the recognition of New industries in the rebased calculations including: food, beverages and tobacco, chemical products, pharmaceutical products, arts and entertainment. Nollywood, the Nigerian movie industry produces more films a year than any other country except India. There are up to 120 million mobile phone subscribers in a country of around 170m people, and dozens of providers which is remarkable considering Only 20 years ago, Nigeria had one telecoms operator and around 300,000 telephone lines.
This apparent diversification of the Nigerian economy has eased the pressure on the volatile Oil and Gas industry to perform as it has been doing for a long time now. Before the rebasing, the share of crude oil and natural gas to the nominal GDP was 40.86 percent in 2011 – this figure is now 14.4% for 2013. Their investment uncertainties surrounding the industry down to the impending regulatory changes (the Petroleum Industry Bill) and growing issues around oil theft which have delayed exploration projects which were to be implemented to assist the country in increasing Oil production.
Ratings agency Moody’s published a statement on Nigeria’s rebased GDP of $510 billion, which it estimates would surge to $4.5 trillion by 2050 – however in my opinion this still papers over the cracks that have hindered the country for so long and will continue to hinder the country if nothing is done to stop it. The economy is booming with billions of dollars worth of investment flowing in to the country annually and year on year economic growth has nearly doubled – however there is a sense that the bottom line do not seem to reap the rewards of their labour. Corruption and financial mismanagement have kept the benefits from trickling down. Why is it that although the country now has the largest economy in Africa they are number 3 on the World Bank Poverty Index? Why did World Bank Country Director, Marie-Francoise Marie-Nelly claim last year that 100 Million Nigerians were living in destitution? Why is my cousin constantly having to save his career mode on FIFA after every game because he’s scared that NEPA will strike and electricity will cut out? Why is the country’s infrastructure still lacking? What steps are being taken to eradicate the evolving threat posed by Boko Haram? These are just a few of many questions that need answering…
The general consensus is that the current administration of President Goodluck Jonathan has not done enough to improve the welfare of Nigerians since taking over from the late Umaru Yar’Adua in 2010. Earlier this year Mr. Jonathan lost public and investor confidence in the country by firing the respected head of the central bank, Lamido Sanusi, the first time this has happened in the country’s history (Check out the full story here). This reinforced suspicions that the lost money to the account of $20bn which could have been spent improving the economy further was shared amongst politicians. It seems like the country has the classic problem of inequality – the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. More than 60% of Nigerians live of $1 a day – that’s crazy.
Something needs to be done and fast if the country wants to realise the potential it has.