During 2003–7 Nigeria is attempting to implement an economic reform program called the National Economic Empowerment Development Strategy (NEEDS). The purpose of NEEDS is to raise the country’s standard of living through a variety of reforms, including macroeconomic stability, deregulation, liberalization, privatization, transparency, and accountability. NEEDS addresses basic deficiencies, such as the lack of freshwater for household use and irrigation, unreliable power supplies, decaying infrastructure, impediments to private enterprise, and corruption. The government hopes that NEEDS will create 7 million new jobs, diversify the economy, boost non-energy exports, increase industrial capacity utilization, and improve agricultural productivity. A related initiative on the state level is the State Economic Empowerment Development Strategy (SEEDS).
A longer-term economic development program is the United Nations (UN)-sponsored National Millennium Goals for Nigeria. Under the program, which covers the years from 2000 to 2015, Nigeria is committed to achieve a wide range of ambitious objectives involving poverty reduction, education, gender equality, health, the environment, and international development cooperation. In an update released in 2004, the UN found that Nigeria was making progress toward achieving several goals but was falling short on others. Specifically, Nigeria had advanced efforts to provide universal primary education, protect the environment, and develop a global development partnership. However, the country lagged behind on the goals of eliminating extreme poverty and hunger, reducing child and maternal mortality, and combating diseases such as human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immune deficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) and malaria.
A prerequisite for achieving many of these worthwhile objectives is curtailing endemic corruption, which stymies development and taints Nigeria’s business environment. President Olusegun Obasanjo’s campaign against corruption, which includes the arrest of officials accused of misdeeds and recovering stolen funds, has won praise from the World Bank. In September 2005, Nigeria, with the assistance of the World Bank, began to recover US$458 million of illicit funds that had been deposited in Swiss banks by the late military dictator Sani Abacha, who ruled Nigeria from 1993 to 1998. However, while broad-based progress has been slow, these efforts have begun to become evident in international surveys of corruption. In fact, Nigeria's ranking has consistently improved since 2001 ranking 147 out of 180 countries in Transparency International’s 2007 Corruption Perceptions Index and placed 108 out of 175 countries in the World Bank’s 2006 Ease of Doing Business Index.
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For purchasing power parity comparisons, the US Dollar is exchanged at 75.75 Nigerian Naira only.
Current GDP per capita of Nigeria expanded 132% in the Sixties reaching a peak growth of 283% in the Seventies. But this proved unsustainable and it consequently shrank by 66% in the Eighties. In the Nineties, diversification initiatives finally took effect and decadal growth was restored to 10%.
Due to inflation, per capita GDP today remains lower than in 1960 when Nigeria declared independence. About 57 percent of the population lives on less than US$1 per day. In 2005 the GDP was composed of the following sectors: agriculture, 26.8 percent; industry, 48.8 percent; and services, 24.4 percent.
In 2005 Nigeria’s inflation rate was an estimated 15.6 percent. Nigeria’s goal under the National Economic Empowerment Development Strategy (NEEDS) program is to reduce inflation to the single digits.
In 2005 Nigeria’s central government had expenditures of US$13.54 billion but revenues of only US$12.86 billion, resulting in a budget deficit of 5 percent. Nigerian tax authorities face the challenge of widespread tax evasion, which is motivated by complaints about corruption and the poor quality of services.
Average wages in 2007 hover around $4-5 per day.
Agriculture has suffered from years of mismanagement, inconsistent and poorly conceived government policies, and the lack of basic infrastructure. Still, the sector accounts for over 26.8% of GDP and two-thirds of employment. Nigeria is no longer a major exporter of cocoa, groundnuts (peanuts), rubber, and palm oil. Cocoa production, mostly from obsolete varieties and overage trees, is stagnant at around 180,000 tons annually; 25 years ago it was 300,000 tons. An even more dramatic decline in groundnut and palm oil production also has taken place. Once the biggest poultry producer in Africa, corporate poultry output has been slashed from 40 million birds annually to about 18 million. Import constraints limit the availability of many agricultural and food processing inputs for poultry and other sectors. Fisheries are poorly managed. Most critical for the country's future, Nigeria's land tenure system does not encourage long-term investment in technology or modern production methods and does not inspire the availability of rural credit.
Agricultural products include cassava (tapioca), corn, cocoa, millet, palm oil, peanuts, rice, rubber, sorghum, and yams. In 2003 livestock production, in order of metric tonnage, featured eggs, milk, beef and veal, poultry, and pork, respectively. In the same year, the total fishing catch was 505.8 metric tons. Roundwood removals totaled slightly less than 70 million cubic meters, and sawnwood production was estimated at 2 million cubic meters. The agricultural sector suffers from extremely low productivity, reflecting reliance on antiquated methods. Although overall agricultural production rose by 28 percent during the 1990s, per capita output rose by only 8.5 percent during the same decade. Agriculture has failed to keep pace with Nigeria’s rapid population growth, so that the country, which once exported food, now relies on imports to sustain itself.
The oil boom of the 1970s led Nigeria to neglect its strong agricultural and light manufacturing bases in favor of an unhealthy dependence on crude oil. In 2000 oil and gas exports accounted for more than 98% of export earnings and about 83% of federal government revenue. New oil wealth, the concurrent decline of other economic sectors, and a lurch toward a statist economic model fueled massive migration to the cities and led to increasingly widespread poverty, especially in rural areas. A collapse of basic infrastructure and social services since the early 1980s accompanied this trend. By 2000 Nigeria's per capita income had plunged to about one-quarter of its mid-1970s high, below the level at independence. Along with the endemic malaise of Nigeria's non-oil sectors, the economy continues to witness massive growth of "informal sector" economic activities, estimated by some to be as high as 75% of the total economy.
Nigeria's proven oil reserves are estimated to be ; natural gas reserves are well over 100 trillion ft³ (2,800 km³). Nigeria is a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), and in mid-2001 its crude oil production was averaging around 2.2 million barrels (350,000 m³) per day. The types of crude oil exported by Nigeria are Bonny Light oil, Forcados crude oil, Qua Ibo crude oil and Brass River crude oil. Poor corporate relations with indigenous communities, vandalism of oil infrastructure, severe ecological damage, and personal security problems throughout the Niger Delta oil-producing region continue to plague Nigeria's oil sector. Efforts are underway to reverse these troubles. In the absence of government programs, the major multinational oil companies have launched their own community development programs. A new entity, the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), has been created to help catalyze economic and social development in the region. Although it has yet to launch its programs, hopes are high that the NDDC can reverse the impoverishment of local communities. The U.S. remains Nigeria's largest customer for crude oil, accounting for 40% of the country's total oil exports; Nigeria provides about 10% of overall U.S. oil imports and ranks as the fifth-largest source for U.S. imported oil.
The United States is Nigeria's largest trading partner after the United Kingdom. Although the trade balance overwhelmingly favors Nigeria, thanks to oil exports, a large portion of U.S. exports to Nigeria is believed to enter the country outside of the Nigerian Government's official statistics, due to importers seeking to avoid Nigeria's excessive tariffs. To counter smuggling and under-invoicing by importers, in May 2001 the Nigerian Government instituted a 100% inspection regime for all imports, and enforcement has been sustained. On the whole, Nigerian high tariffs and non-tariff barriers are gradually being reduced, but much progress remains to be made. The government also has been encouraging the expansion of foreign investment, although the country's investment climate remains daunting to all but the most determined. The stock of U.S. investment is nearly $7 billion, mostly in the energy sector. Exxon Mobil and Chevron are the two largest U.S. corporate players in offshore oil and gas production. Significant exports of liquefied natural gas started in late 1999 and are slated to expand as Nigeria seeks to eliminate gas flaring by 2008.
Oil dependency, and the allure it generated of great wealth through government contracts, spawned other economic distortions. The country's high propensity to import means roughly 80% of government expenditures is recycled into foreign exchange. Cheap consumer imports, resulting from a chronically overvalued Naira, coupled with excessively high domestic production costs due in part to erratic electricity and fuel supply, have pushed down industrial capacity utilization to less than 30%. Many more Nigerian factories would have closed except for relatively low labor costs (10%-15%). Domestic manufacturers, especially pharmaceuticals and textiles, have lost their ability to compete in traditional regional markets; however, there are signs that some manufacturers have begun to address their competitiveness.
Nigeria's official foreign debt is about $28.5 billion, about 75% of which is owed to Paris Club countries. A large chunk of this debt is interest and payment arrears. In August 2000 the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Nigeria signed a one-year Stand-by Arrangement (SBA), leading to a debt rescheduling agreement in December between Nigeria and its Paris Club creditors. By August 2001, despite continued dialogue with the IMF, Nigeria had been unable to implement many of the SBA conditions. The IMF consented to extend its SBA by a few months and seek out revised targets and conditions for a new agreement. As of September 2001, only a few of Nigeria's creditor governments had signed bilateral rescheduling agreements. Another obstacle to debt restructuring involves World Bank classification. Any long-term debt relief will require strong and sustained economic reforms over a number of years.
In the light of highly expansionary public sector fiscal policies during 2001, the government has sought ways to head off higher inflation, leading to the implementation of stronger monetary policies by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and underspending of budgeted amounts. As a result of the CBN's efforts, the official exchange rate for the Naira has stabilized at about 112 Naira to the dollar. The combination of CBN's efforts to prop up the value of the Naira and excess liquidity resulting from government spending led the currency to be discounted by around 20% on the parallel (nonofficial) market. A key condition of the Stand-by Arrangement has been closure of the gap between the official and parallel market exchange rates. The Inter Bank Foreign Exchange Market (IFEM) is closely tied to the official rate. Under IFEM, banks, oil companies, and the CBN can buy or sell their foreign exchange at government influenced rates. Much of the informal economy, however, can only access foreign exchange through the parallel market. Companies can hold domiciliary accounts in private banks, and account holders have unfettered use of the funds.
Expanded government spending also has led to upward pressure on consumer prices. Inflation which had fallen to 0% in April 2000 reached 14.5% by the end of the year and 18.7% in August 2001. In 2000 high world oil prices resulted in government revenue of over $16 billion, about double the 1999 level. State and local governmental bodies demand access to this "windfall" revenue, creating a tug-of-war between the federal government, which seeks to control spending, and state governments desirous of augmented budgets preventing the government from making provision for periods of lower oil prices.
Since undergoing severe distress in the mid-1990s, Nigeria's banking sector has witnessed significant growth over the last few years as new banks enter the financial market. Harsh monetary policies implemented by the Central Bank of Nigeria to absorb excess Naira liquidity in the economy has made life more difficult for banks, some of whom engage in currency arbitrage (round-tripping) activities that generally fall outside legal banking mechanisms. Private sector-led economic growth remains stymied by the high cost of doing business in Nigeria, including the need to duplicate essential infrastructure, the threat of crime and associated need for security counter measures, the lack of effective due process, and nontransparent economic decisionmaking, especially in government contracting. As of 2007, 29% of Nigerians in urban areas did not own bank accounts.
While corrupt practices are endemic, they are generally less flagrant than during military rule, and there are signs of improvement. Meanwhile, since 1999 the Nigerian Stock Exchange has enjoyed strong performance, although equity as a means to foster corporate growth remains underutilized by Nigeria's private sector.
Although the government has been stymied so far in its desire to deregulate downstream petroleum prices, state refineries, almost paralyzed in 2000, are producing at much higher capacities; by August 2001 gasoline lines disappeared throughout much of the country. The government still intends to pursue deregulation despite significant internal opposition, particularly from the Nigeria Labour Congress. To meet market demand the government incurs large losses importing gasoline to sell at subsidized prices.
Companies interested in long-term investment and joint ventures, especially those that use locally available raw materials, will find opportunities in the large national market. However, to improve prospects for success, potential investors must educate themselves extensively on local conditions and business practices, establish a local presence, and choose their partners carefully. The Nigerian Government is keenly aware that sustaining democratic principles, enhancing security for life and property, and rebuilding and maintaining infrastructure are necessary for the country to attract foreign investment.
In 2005 Nigeria imported about US$26 billion of goods. In 2004 the leading sources of imports were China (9.4 percent), the United States (8.4 percent), the United Kingdom (7.8 percent), the Netherlands (5.9 percent), France (5.4 percent), Germany (4.8 percent), and Italy (4 percent). Principal imports were manufactured goods, machinery and transport equipment, chemicals, and food and live animals.
In 2005 Nigeria exported about US$52 billion of goods. In 2004 the leading destinations for exports were the United States (47.4 percent), Brazil (10.7 percent), and Spain (7.1 percent). In 2004 oil accounted for 95 percent of merchandise exports, and cocoa and rubber accounted for almost 60 percent of the remainder.
In 2005 Nigeria posted a US$26 billion trade surplus, corresponding to almost 20 percent of gross domestic product. In 2005 Nigeria achieved a positive current account balance of US$9.6 billion. The Nigerian currency is the naira (NGN). As of mid-June 2006, the exchange rate was about US$1=NGN128.4.
The United States assisted with Nigeria's economic development from 1954 through June 1974, when concessional assistance was phased out because of a substantial increase in Nigeria's per capita income resulting from rising oil revenue. By 1974, the United States had provided Nigeria with approximately $360 million in assistance, which included grants for technical assistance, development assistance, relief and rehabilitation, and food aid. Disbursements continued into the late 1970s, bringing total bilateral economic assistance to roughly $445 million.
The sharp decline in oil prices, economic mismanagement, and continued military rule characterized Nigeria in the 1980s. In 1983, USAID began providing assistance to the Nigerian Federal and State Ministries of Health to develop and implement programs in family planning and child survival. In 1992, an HIV/AIDS prevention and control program was added to existing health activities. USAID committed $135 million to bilateral assistance programs for the period of 1986 to 1996 as Nigeria undertook an initially successful Structural Adjustment Program, but later abandoned it. Plans to commit $150 million in assistance from 1993 to 2000 were interrupted by strains in U.S.-Nigerian relations over human rights abuses, the failed transition to democracy, and a lack of cooperation from the Nigerian Government on anti-narcotics trafficking issues. By the mid-1990s, these problems resulted in the curtailment of USAID activities that might benefit the military Government. Existing health programs were re-designed to focus on working through grassroots Nigerian non-governmental organizations and community groups. As a response to the Nigerian military government's plans for delayed transition to civilian rule, the Peace Corps closed its program in Nigeria in 1994.
In response to the increasingly repressive political situation, USAID established a Democracy and Governance (DG) program in 1996. This program integrates themes focusing on basic participatory democracy, human rights and civil rights, women's empowerment, accountability, and transparency with other health activities to reach Nigerians at the grassroots level in 14 of Nigeria's 36 states.
The sudden death of Gen. Sani Abacha and the assumption of power by Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar in June 1998, marked a turning point in U.S.-Nigerian relations. USAID provided significant support to the electoral process by providing some $4 million in funding for international election observation, the training of Nigerian election observers and political party polling agents, as well as voter education activities. A Vital National Interest Certification was submitted to Congress in February 1999 by President Clinton to lift restrictions on U.S. Government interaction with and support to the Government of Nigeria.
Since that time, USAID has supported Nigeria to sustain democracy and to improve governance by providing training on the roles and responsibilities of elected officials in a representative democracy for newly elected officials at the federal, state, and local levels prior to their installation in May 1999 and assisting with conflict prevention and resolution in the Niger Delta, civil military relations, civil society, and political party development. In the economic area USAID supports programs in strengthening economic management and coordination, encouraging private sector development and economic reform, helping Nigeria reap the benefits of AGOA, improved agricultural technology and marketing and smallscale and microenterprise development. In addition, health assistance, focusing on HIV/AIDS, nutrition, and immunization, education, transportation and energy infrastructure, are priorities for bilateral assistance.
Oil - consumption: 310,000 bbl/day (2003 est.)
Agriculture - products: cocoa, peanuts, palm oil, maize, rice, sorghum, millet, cassava (tapioca), yams, rubber; cattle, sheep, goats, pigs; timber; fish Exports: $72.16 billion f.o.b. (2005 est.) Exports - commodities: petroleum and petroleum products 95%, cocoa, rubber Exports - partners: United States 47.4%, Brazil 10.7%, Spain 7.1%(2004) Imports: $45.95 billion f.o.b. (2005 est.) Imports - commodities: machinery, chemicals, transport equipment, manufactured goods, food and live animals Imports - partners: the People's Republic of China 9.4%, United States 8.4%, United Kingdom 7.8%, Netherlands 5.9%, France 5.4%, Germany 4.8%, Italy 4% (2004) Debt - external: $3.3 billion with London Club(2006 est.) Economic aid - recipient: IMF $250 million (1998) Currency: 1 Naira (NGN) = 100 kobo Exchange rates: Naira (NGN) per US$1 - 117.5 (2007), 120 (2006), 128 (2005), 132.89 (2004), 129.22 (2003), 120.58 (2002), 111.23 (2001)
External Reserves: $59 billion (2008)
Fiscal year: calendar year