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Nigeria Falling Behind, by World Bank

Nigeria is not moving fast enough, says the World Bank

Growth is too slow to lift the bottom half of the population out of poverty, says the World Bank in its latest yearly report on Nigeria. It wrote: “The weakness of the agriculture sector weakens prospects for the rural poor, while high food inflation adversely impacts the livelihoods of the urban poor. Despite expansion in some sectors, employment creation remains weak and insufficient to absorb the fast-growing labor force, resulting in high rate of unemployment (23% in 2018), with another 20% of the labor force underemployed.  Furthermore, the instability in the North and the resulting displacement of people contribute to the high incidence of poverty in the North East.”

Read The Report :   Nigeria Overview 2019

Growth is constrained by a weak macroeconomic framework with high persistent inflation, multiple exchange rate windows and forex restrictions, distortionary activities by the central bank, and a lack of revenue-driven fiscal consolidation results. Rising public debt, and increasingly complex policy interventions by the central bank constrain private sector credit growth. External balances are fragile to hot money movements, and fiscal buffers are exhausted, making Nigeria’s economy vulnerable to external risks.”

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The  World Bank, however, remarked that the Buhari government has the opportunity to “accelerate the pace of structural reforms to build an institutional and policy framework capable of managing the volatility of the oil sector and supporting the sustained growth of the non-oil economy.

Bold reforms that could have a significant impact on the economy’s trajectory are the removal of subsidies, elimination of forex and trade restrictions, greater transparency and predictability of monetary policy and increased domestic revenue mobilization. Such reforms would help raise living standards of low-income groups while increasing spending on much needed public services.

Oil price volatility continues to influence Nigeria’s growth performance. Between 2000 and 2014, Nigeria’s gross domestic product (GDP) grew at an average rate of 7% per year. Following the oil price collapse in 2014-2016, combined with negative production shocks, the gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate dropped to 2.7% in 2015. In 2016 during its first recession in 25 years, the economy contracted by 1.6%.

The signing of the Africa Continental Trade Agreement, after extended deliberations, may also provide some positive momentum over the medium-term, it concluded.

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