Nigeria’s Economic Growth ...High Potential for a Frog Leap

Nigeria is one of the most developed countries in Africa. By virtue of its population of over 160 million people, it is the largest country in Africa and accounts for about 47% of West Africa’s population. It is also the biggest oil exporter in Africa, with the largest natural gas reserves in the continent. With these substantial reserves of human and natural resources, the country is expected to build a prosperous economy, drastically reduce poverty, and provide health, education and infrastructure services to its large population.

Historically, from 2005 until 2012, Nigeria’s gross domestic product growth rate averaged 6.81%, reaching an all time high of 8.60% in December of 2010 and a record low of 4.50% in March of 2009.  Although Nigeria's economy grew 6.6% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2013 when compared with the first quarter of 2012, it however declined comparably with the 6.9% recorded during the fourth quarter of last year, due to slower growth in the non-oil sector. Meanwhile, annual growth rates that averaged over 7% in official data during the last decade place Nigeria among the fastest growing economies in the world. It is argued that the high economic growth recorded within this period has not  translated to much welfare improvement for the generality of the country’s citizens as poverty reduction and job creation have not kept pace with population growth. This, notwithstanding, Nigeria’s short term macroeconomic outlook looks generally strong, with the likelihood of higher growth, lower inflation, and reserve accumulation.

While many economic experts explained that the framework and strategies for economic growth and development in Nigeria for over three decades have been that of alignment and re-alignment, policy inconsistencies and poor implementation, we advise that government should diversify the economy into non-oil export sector to prevent over dependent on oil. China, for example, has built a strong economy with a manufacturing sector that is very active, and has become a reference point.

Nigeria should also reposition its economy to attract foreign direct investments and generate more revenue, rather than depending only on earnings from oil –where we do not control the market price and demand. Nigeria must, as a matter of urgency, build a solid and dynamic economy in order to fully optimise the benefits of globalisation. There is an urgent need to find a formula that will enable the wealth of the nation to cascade to the generality of the populace through rapid job creation.