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Nigeria is now Africa's biggest economy

Monday, 7 April 2014 - 8:37am IST | Place: Abuja | Agency: IANS

Nigeria has surpassed South Africa as Africa's biggest economy, rebased gross domestic product (GDP) figures from authorities showed on Sunday.

The biggest oil producer in Africa climbed to the 26th largest economy in the world, according to the statistics announced by Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala in the national capital, Xinhua reported.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and two other international financial institutions have endorsed Nigeria's new GDP figures, an IMF official said Sunday.

"I speak on behalf of three development partners, namely the World Bank, African Development Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Let me state that we endorse this wholeheartedly and we support Nigeria in this regard," said Gene Leon, country representative of the IMF.He added that Nigeria's economic policies could be better and more correctly targeted based on the updated information.

Last year's rebased GDP of $509.9 billion surpassed South Africa's data as the continent's highest number. The new figures were released by the National Bureau of Statistics.

The GDP index is the total value of a country's goods and services over a period of time. Rebasing is generally carried out every five years to give the most up-to-date picture. Nigeria's last figures was computed in 1999.

The new calculation includes previously uncounted industries like telecoms, information technology, music, online sales, airlines, and film production, according to authorities.

Okonjo-Iweala emphasised the rigorisity of the rebasing, adding on per capita bases, Nigeria's 2,688-dollar is number 121 in the world. She said the share in GDP of agriculture declined from 33% to 22%, and the share of service sector rose from 26% to about 51%. Industry's share remained around 25-26%.

"Manufacturing moved from about 2% to almost 7% now, which is significant. And telecommunications moved from a very low number one to two% to about 8.7% now, while Nollywood moved from nothing to about 1.2% now," she added.

The higher GDP data of last year means Nigeria's growth looks will be slower this year, but it could also lower the country's debt to GDP ratio which now stands at 21%.




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