Nigeria surpasses SA as largest African economy

By on April 9, 2014

Earlier this week, Nigeria overtook South Africa as Africa’s largest economy, after rebasing calculation almost doubled its gross domestic product.

Nigeria Bureau of Statistics reported that the GDP for 2013 was R5.3 trillion, up from the R2.7 trillion estimated before the rebased calculation. This makes the Nigerian economy about 60 percent larger than South Africa’s and the 26th biggest economy in the world, up from 33rd before the rebasing.

According to Charles Brewer, Managing Director for DHL Express Sub-Saharan Africa, Nigeria’s economy has shown potential for quite some time. “The growing global interest in Africa as a destination for investment is well documented, due to Africa being home to some of the world’s fastest-growing economies. Investor interest in Nigeria has particularly peaked over the years as sectors in the country have diversified due to the growing consumer market and rising middle class.”

The rebasing GDP data calculation, which hadn’t been amended since 1990, now factor in industry sectors such oil and gas, finance, retail, telecommunications, as well as its rapidly growing film industry, Nollywood.

“For example, Nigeria’s Information Communication Technology (ICT) sector has grown exponentially over the past five years and with the recent implementation of its five-year National Broadband Plan, Nigeria’s broadband internet penetration is set to increase by 80 percent by the end of 2018. This on-going technological growth has resulted in online shopping becoming a way of life for many citizens, and due to the lack of customs challenges and high import tax present within the region, the sector is likely to continue expanding and aiding the country’s GDP growth,” says Brewer.

Political battlefield

The Democratic Alliance (DA) seized on the opportunity to lay the blame directly at the feet of the ruling party. “The ANC government’s failure to achieve South Africa’s growth potential over the past two decades has now led to our economy being overtaken as the largest economy in Africa. The DA has a plan to accelerate economic growth. We will work to get our country back on top,” Tim Harris, Shadow Minister of Finance for the DA, said.

Apparently average Nigerians have been very nonplussed by the news, stating that it has not put more money in their pockets overnight.

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