ABUJA, Feb 24 – Nigeria’s economic growth rose to an annual rate of 2.55% in the three months to the end of December, its highest quarterly growth since a 2016 recession, the statistics office said on Monday.
Africa’s largest economy grew 2.27% in 2019 from 1.91% the previous year. The country has struggled to shake off the effects of a 2016 recession that ended the following year, and has been grappling with low growth since.
Growth in 2019 was supported by a favourable oil price and higher crude production. The oil sector, which accounts for around two-thirds of government revenue and 90% of foreign exchange, grew 6.36% in Q4.
Crude production hovered at around 2 million barrels per day throughout the year, the statistics office said.
The non-oil sector, which the government is trying to make the main growth sector, rose 2.26% in Q4.
President Muhammadu Buhari, who began a second four-year term in May, has pledged to revive the economy and diversify it away from over-dependence on oil. But investors have been waiting for policy signals that could lift growth.
“Today’s figures still doesn’t show any sign that President Buhari is succeeding in rebalancing Nigeria’s economy,” said John Ashbourne, Africa economist at Capital Economics.
“The pickup in growth was caused by an easing in the contraction of wholesale and retail trade and a boom in the banking sector.”
Last week the IMF cut its 2020 growth forecast for Nigeria to 2% from 2.5%, citing lower demand for oil due to fears that the coronavirus outbreak in China will cause a slowdown.
The Fund said Nigeria was still recovering, but inflation was rising which, along with external shocks, would weaken its foreign exchange reserves due to its deteriorating terms of trade and capital outflows.
Annual inflation in Nigeria rose for the fifth straight month to 12.13% in January, its highest in nearly two years.
The World Poverty Clock has revealed that 91,885,874 people in Nigeria now live in extreme poverty.
According to the World Bank, a person can be said to be living in extreme poverty if they live below the poverty line of $1.90 which translates to N693.5 per day.
46.5 percent of Nigeria’s population which is approximated at 197,686,877, sometimes rounded up to 200, 000,000.
This means that more than half of Nigeria’s population live on less than a dollar (N360) a day.
In June 2018, the World Poverty Clock had named Nigeria the poverty capital of the world with statistics showing 87 million people live in poverty.
The latest numbers indicate that since June 2018, four million Nigerians have joined the poverty club occasioned by factors such as unemployment, insecurity, among others.