Accelerated economic growth predicted for Nigeria

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Nigeria will be among the next wave of emerging economic superpowers, according to a leading expert.

City centre & skyline of Lagos, Nigeria’s biggest city

A leading expert has predicted that Nigeria will be one of four countries experiencing accelerated economic progress over the next decade.

British economist Jim O’Neill, a former chairman of Goldman Sachs, was the person responsible for coining the term BRIC to describe the four fastest growing emerging economies in 2001. Those countries were Brazil, Russia, India and China, and all of them have seen their economies grow at a rapid rate over the last decade. In 2010 the name was updated to BRICS as South Africa was added to the list.

Now, according to O’Neill, the next generation of countries to experience accelerated economic development is about to emerge, and Nigeria is one of them. The four new countries identified by O’Neill are Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey –collectively known by the acronym MINT.

The factors propelling these countries’ economies are numerous, but chief among them is they all have beneficial “inner demographics” – meaning the number of people able to work is rising relative to the number unable to do so. Indeed, so powerful is this factor that, according to the BBC, the MINT countries could soon see economic growth comparable to that experienced by China between 2003-2008.

According to financial magazine Forbes, Nigeria has “some of the best prospects in all emerging markets.”

Nigeria, say Forbes is “thought to be in an economic sweetspot and has gathered increasing attention from world investors over the last year.”

Nigeria is about to undergo a reassessment of its GDP – known as a rebasing – and when that happens, say Forbes, “it may well prove to be the biggest economy in Africa, even bigger than South Africa.”

A key stage for Nigeria’s continuing economic development, says O’Neill, is joining the G20 – the group of the world’s biggest economies. The other MINT countries are all members already, and O’Neill believes membership will be important for Nigeria in forming trade agreements and economic alliances, as the original BRIC countries did in the early years of the millennium

Nigeria is confident that membership will happen, with Nigerian finance minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala stating “We know our time will come. We think they are missing something by not having us.”

Challenges do remain, however. Like many African countries, Nigeria has problems with corruption, but the more pressing concern is increasing the amount of power being generated. Currently many businesses have to generate their own electricity. Major energy initiatives have been launched in Nigeria, and O’Neill believes that the country “could grow at 10-12% by sorting out this problem alone”.

Okonjo-Iweala is confident that the problems will be overcome and the country will reach its potential: “The developed countries can look at some of the lessons that come from the work that the developing countries have done or doing, and ask the question, why are these economies now rebounding and sustaining growth. It’s because many of our economies, even in Africa, have gone through some of the challenges that the developed world is now going through. We have learned lessons. We have learned how to manage our economies in order to produce and promote sustained growth now.”

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