Nigeria’s statistical rebasing of its economy has received the backing of the World Bank, which said in Abuja on Monday that good as it is, it must be translated into better living condition for the people.
“What matters is the per capital and what matters is how well our individuals are doing. I think the rebasing is great, at least we have a good sense of how large that economy is,” Mr. Francisco Ferreira, the World Bank’s Chief Economist said at a briefing on the Economic Outlook Report on Africa.
The statistical rebasing, which saw the National Bureau of Statistics working with assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to capture new growth industries like telecoms and Nollywood, now puts the Nigerian economy as the largest in Africa with a GDP $510 billion.
“Also, it is the most populous country in the region and it is fantastic we have this done but going forward, what matters and very important to everybody is productivity to generate other indicators, Ferreira stated.
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, and confirmation came on Sunday with the announcement of the new figures by the Federal Government.
Ferreira also said the bank welcomedthe new GDP figures and that the organization was optimistic of increased Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into the Nigerian economy, provided the Federal Government provides the enabling environment.
On the emergence of Nigeria as the largest economy, Ferreira stated: “I don’t think South Africa should worry about the recent development, if they want to worry, they can worry about labour situation, strikes and other issues, those things make South Africa less attractive. The Fact that Nigeria is largest economy is nothing to worry about.”
“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 while announcing the new figures in Abuja.
The $510 billion announced is significantly higher that the $400 billion projected by the IMF.
“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 on the planned rebasing by Africa Confidential had stated in January.