9th April, 2014
It is not a surprise that the rating of Nigeria’s economy as the biggest in Africa has attracted the curiosity and jeers of many Nigerians. While some were thrown into jubilation, others have been dissecting the report to authenticate its genuineness and impact in view of the prevailing economic realities in the country. They seem not to comprehend how this new rating would translate to better living condition for them.
It is to this end that the Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and other handlers of the economy must harness this new economic status to make Nigeria’s economy the biggest in Africa in the real sense of the word.
The Statistician-General of Nigeria, Dr. Yemi Kale, on Sunday, 6 April, 2014, announced in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, that the current GDP of the country is $510 billion, and according to him, this makes Nigeria the largest economy in Africa. He noted that the rebasing does not imply new figures only, but shows clearly the performance of the economy in data form. But how about the performance of the economy in the real sense? Of what impact is the rebasing if it portrays Nigeria’s economy as the biggest in Africa and the 26th largest economy globally when other indices point to the contrary?
The rating becomes even more questionable considering the deluge of problems such as unemployment, poor infrastructure and roads, epileptic electricity supply, high poverty rate, among others, that are ravaging the country.
About a week ago, Nigeria bagged a high poverty rating in the world, courtesy the World Bank. Does it not appear unrealistic if the same country is adjudged as the biggest economy days after? The figure seems to provide government a data for its ratio analysis rather painting the true state of the economy.
Despite the laudable increase in the GDP, Nigerian government should not be carried away by the euphoria of being the biggest economy in Africa. Those running the economy must latch on to this to improve the standard of living of Nigerians and ensure Nigeria eventually remains the most significant economy in the continent.
Comparing Nigeria with South Africa or working under the illusion that with the present GDP, Nigeria is better than South Africa might be costly when the economic realities of the two countries are not same. For instance, while electricity supply in Nigeria is epileptic, the situation is better in South Africa. The country is considered the toast of investors. South Africa’s $7,508 GDP per capita is higher than Nigeria’s $2,688.
With a population of 170 million people, Nigeria is about three times the size of South Africa. All eyes are on Nigeria now due to the way the recent GDP increase grabbed international headlines. The current rating places the country under pressure to improve its economy and comes with a greater responsibility of sustaining the landmark.
Wisdom demands that with the GDP rebasing, everything must be done to consolidate this milestone. GDP per capita in Nigeria is now $2,688. The recent increase took the country from its 135th position in the world to 121st. We reiterate that handlers of Nigeria’s economy should not be too contented until the country experiences appreciable growth that can translate to better living conditions for Nigerians.