The 2013 Nigeria Economic Report Vol.1 by the World Bank has cast shadow on the country’s impressive Gross Domestic Product, GDP, as it indicated that more Nigerians have grown poorer.
The report, which was released recently in Abuja by the Country Office of the World Bank, showed that poverty rates remain high in Nigeria, particularly in rural areas.
It was, however, quick to point out that ‘the officially reported growth rates of the Gross Domestic Product, GDP, well exceed population growth in the country, the pace of poverty reduction does not.
According to the report, the poverty rates declined between 2003-2004 and 2009- 2010, although not nearly as fast as would be expected from the pace of economic growth in the country.
From data presented, the poverty rate increased marginally by over 1.8 per cent from 62.6 per cent in 2009-2010 to 64.2 in 2013, while at the same period, urban poverty grew to 52.2percent from 51.2 per cent.
Equally, there was a steep rise in rural poverty from 69 per cent to 73.4percent, with the adult equivalence of rural poverty climbing to 57.4 to 52.9, and urban poverty at 36.8 from 34.3 and the national average at 48.3 up from 46.1.
The implication according to the World Bank Report is that the number of poor Nigerians living below the poverty line has grown measurably.
On a state-by-state basis of the poverty rates in the country, it concluded that the dynamics differ considerably in different parts.
Lagos State, the Report says, has the lowest estimated poverty rate of 22.9%, while Jigawa has the highest at 77.5%, stressing that poverty is particularly concentrated in the Northern part of the country, while the South West experiences the lowest poverty rates.
“Average poverty rates for the North East and North West areas are 59.7 and 58 per cent, respectively, while the North Central has an average rate of 48.8. By contrast, average rates in the South-West, South-East, and South-South are 30.6, 39, and 37.6 per cent respectively,” the report stated.
Also, its findings on unemployment were not cheery as the Report suggests that job creation in the country has been inadequate to keep pace with the expanding working age population.
Working with official unemployment data, it points out that the unemployment rate has steadily increased from 12% of the working age population in 2006 to 24% in 2011.
Preliminary indications are that this upward trend continued in 2012. The official definition of employment in Nigeria (under 40 hours worked in the past week) is unusual, and is therefore not comparable to that in most other countries.
“The negative dynamic is very consistent, however, with perceptions of the population of increasing difficulties for finding gainful employment. The problem in Nigeria might best be interpreted as underemployment in contrast to unemployment proper.
“In sum, statistics on poverty and unemployment in Nigeria, together with other direct indicators of welfare, suggest a story that is rather different from the national accounts data. GDP growth has not been sufficient to support levels of poverty reduction and job creation necessary to prevent a growing number of poor and unemployed (underemployed) Nigerians.
“While the household survey data document a slight increase in inequality between 2003-2004 and 2009-2010.”