Nigeria has overtaken South Africa as the largest economy in Africa, as a statistical rebasing boosts the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) by 89.22 per cent in 2013.
“We did not set out to become the biggest economy in Africa. We set out to measure how much the economy has changed. And that is the outcome. Becoming the largest economy on the continent is a positive development, but it is not destination,” Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, said on Sunday in Abuja at a press conference.
“This would increase Nigerian GDP in 2013 – US$270 billion in 2012, according to the IMF – to $400 bn., against projected total South African GDP this year of $392 bn,” a report by Africa Confidential had stated in January.
Buoyed by an annual economic growth of 7 per cent in the last decade and the new statistical measurement, Nigeria had been on course to replace South Africa as the biggest economy in the continent, with the National Bureau of Statistics with technical assistance from the International Monetary Fund and World Bank having worked on it for some time.
“The knowledge derived will help us make better policies to grow the economy and create jobs for young Nigerians,” the minister said, adding that Nigerians had worked hard to make our economy the largest in Africa and should be proud of the feat.
She noted that the challenge and an opportunity of not only being the largest economy in the continent but the 26th in the world are real and must be confronted.
According to her, the results of the rebasing would not make the challenges of poverty and unemployment disappear overnight, adding that it was imperative to policy making.
Okonjo-Iweala said GDP estimates would also help Nigerians particularly policy makers to have better understanding of the structure and changes of the economy and serve as better tools to grow the economy.
Earlier, Statistician-General of the Federation, Dr. Yemi kale, said the results of the rebasing exercise revealed that the nominal GDP for Nigeria was larger than previously estimated.
Said Kale: “The rebasing exercise reveals that the nominal GDP in 2010 was reversed from N33.9 trillion to N54.2 trillion. That is an increase of 59.5 per cent.
“It was reversed from N34.4 trillion in 2011 to N63.3 trillion. That is an increase of 69.1 per cent, and from N40.5 trillion to N71.1 trillion in 2012. That is an increase of 75.58 per cent.
“We estimated that in 2013, it was reversed from N42.3 trillion to N80.3 trillion, an increase of 89.22 per cent.’’
The statistician-general said the results also revealed that in 2010, agriculture share of GDP was estimated at 23.96 per cent, compared with 30.03 per cent in the old series.
He stated: “Industry has dropped from 46.08 per cent to 25.81 per cent and service has more than doubled to over 50 per cent from 23 per cent in the old series.
“We can see that the structure of Nigerian economy has changed significantly,’’ he said, adding that the results of the rebasing exercise provided a more accurate picture of the structure of the Nigerian economy relative to a base year of 2010, rather than the base year of 1990 that was currently in use.
The Supervising Minister of the National Planning Commission, Mr. Bashir Yuguda, underscored the credibility of the rebasing exercise, which he said was rigorously and professionally executed by a team of local and international experts.
“It is a thorough job and we are pleased with the results. The results will empower government to do more for the Nigerian people,” Yuguda said.