According to experts, Nigeria’s catch up to South Africa will be confirmed by the results of a planned rebasing of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). “Historically, it has been said that 60 to 70 percent of Nigerians are engaged in agriculture,” BusinessDay quoted Nigeria’s Statistician-General, Yemi Kale as saying. “But the recent job survey showed 36 percent. This shows that since 1990 and now, a lot less people are involved in agriculture than they used to be when the rebasing was last done.” This demonstrates how the structure of Nigeria’s economy has changed over the years and gives indications of the eventual makeup of the country’s new GDP.
According to Samir Gadio, an Emerging Markets Strategist at Standard Bank, if Nigeria does rebase its GDP, the 40 percent upward revision would bring Nigeria’s GDP to about $370 billion, just shy of South Africa’s output ($391 billion forecast for 2012), with the country subsequently becoming the largest economy in Africa within a year or two. Some Africa watchers say the revision will only see Nigeria catch up with South Africa. “Latest IMF data puts Nigeria’s GDP in current USD as $273 billion in 2012. South Africa’s 2012 GDP in US dollars is estimated at $420 billion,” says Razia Khan, Head of Africa Research at Standard Chartered Bank. “With rebasing, Nigeria’s economy comes closer to catching up. It becomes a $382-billion economy roughly and only 10 percent smaller than South Africa.”
Whatever the actual figures, Nigeria has made impressive economic gains over the past decade, mostly driven by oil. According to Nigeria’s Finance Ministry, oil constitutes more than 80 percent of revenue and 95 percent of export income. Other revenue streams are emerging with investment in telecoms, e-commerce, and more recently, agriculture.
But Nigeria’s growth may be hampered by the concentration of its investment and trading partnerships in Europe, Asia and America, and its absence in Africa.