Trending Topics

United We Stand: Why Nigeria Needs to Trade More Within Africa

nigeria-tradeAccording to experts, Nigeria’s catch up to South Africa will be confirmed by the results of a planned rebasing of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), with the new figures to be made known early this year.

“Historically, it has been said that 60 to 70 percent of Nigerians are engaged in agriculture,” BusinessDay quoted Nigeria’s Statistician-General, Yemi Kale as saying. “But the recent job survey showed 36 percent. This shows that since 1990 and now, a lot less people are involved in agriculture than they used to be when the rebasing was last done.” This demonstrates how the structure of Nigeria’s economy has changed over the years and gives indications of the eventual makeup of the country’s new GDP.

Whatever the actual figures, Nigeria has made impressive economic gains over the past decade, mostly driven by oil. According to Nigeria’s Finance Ministry, oil constitutes more than 80 percent of revenue and 95 percent of export income. Other revenue streams are emerging with investment in telecoms, e-commerce, and more recently, agriculture.

But Nigeria’s growth may be hampered by the concentration of its investment and trading partnerships in Europe, Asia and America, and its absence in Africa.

Individual businessmen like Alhaji Aliko Dangote, who has cement interests in 13 African countries, and Michael Adenuga, whose telecommunications company, Globacom, claims significant market share in Benin Republic and Ghana, have made substantial investments on the continent. But Nigeria has largely overlooked the benefits of economic integration, even as its growing market matures and modernizes, and the movement of goods and services, capital, information and people increases. By contrast, South Africa’s footprint covers most countries on the continent, notably through telecom giant MTN, financial institution Standard Bank and retail giants like Shoprite.

The report, which measures the degree of economic integration within key trade corridors of Sub-Saharan Africa, argues that Nigeria will be the main beneficiary of greater integration across Africa “as its growing market matures and modernizes, and the demand for capital and a diversity of trade partners rises to address the needs of increasing industrialization, a rising appetite for production and services and growing sophistication in lifestyles.” While it is clear Nigeria has a bright economic future, continued growth will only materialize if policy makers and business leaders begin to look outward to the rest of the continent as market for goods and services.


Back to top