The World Bank has projected a slow growth in Nigeria’s economy in 2018 in its latest report. According to the report on Nigeria’s bi-annual Economic Update on Wednesday, the country’s Gross Domestic Product growth is expected to hover slightly below two per cent in 2018, largely driven by non-oil industry and services.
In the report, it also stated that Nigeria’s investment in human capital compared to other nations remained very low. Titled ‘Investing in Human Capital for Nigeria’s Future’, the report noted that, Nigeria, like many other countries, had underinvested in human capital, which was quite low compared to other countries, though it did not provide any statistics.
In recognition that bold actions are required to address years of underinvestment in human capital, the government of Nigeria has established a Human Capital Working Group to develop a unified vision for human capital development and drive implementation of interventions within the ‘Investing in our People’ pillar of the Government’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, the bank said.
The statement quoted World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, Rachid Benmessaoud, to have said, “The World Bank welcomed the Government of Nigeria’s recent ‘Call for Action’, requesting all stakeholders to join the Government’s effort to address Nigeria’s alarming human capital outcomes.
“As a member of the Human Capital Working Group, the World Bank stands ready to support the Government of Nigeria in its bold steps to improve the lives of its citizens.”
The bank said that Nigeria’s emergence from recession remained sluggish, adding that sectoral growth patterns were unstable.
“In the second quarter of 2018, the oil sector contracted by four per cent, the usually-resilient agricultural growth slowed significantly to 1.2 per cent, impacted by the security challenges in the Northeast and Middle Belt regions,” the World Bank said.
“The non-oil industry and services, which constitute over half of Nigeria’s economy, picked-up to 3.1 per cent and 2.1 per cent respectively, driven by growth in construction, transport, and ICT.”
The Update reported that the Nigerian economy remained dependent on the small oil sector (under 10 per cent of GDP) for the bulk of its fiscal revenues and foreign exchange earnings. The statement said, “Although oil revenues are increasing with recovering oil prices in 2018, distributions from oil revenues to the three tiers of government are constrained by the petrol subsidy and other prior deductions.
“In the first half of 2018, the current account surplus surpassed four per cent of GDP, driven largely by higher oil exports, while non-oil revenue collections have come in lower than envisaged. Despite sustained efforts to improve the business environment, Foreign Direct Investment inflows remain stagnated.”
According to the Update, the fiscal deficit will likely widen in 2018 due to increased spending and sustained revenue shortfalls. It added that the current account balance was expected to remain positive, benefiting from the rising value of oil exports and limited growth of non-oil imports.
The capital account faces significant uncertainty, as external portfolio investors may exercise further caution, especially during the pre-election period, despite rising domestic yields, it added.
Given the clearly challenging economic backdrop, the Update suggested certain key policy reforms would be important to support macroeconomic resilience for Nigeria. These include, among others, the acceleration of the economic diversification agenda, the reform of petrol subsidy regime to improve the fiscal space, improvements in the domestic revenue (particularly non-oil) to reduce volatilities in government revenues and increased investment in human capital for a truly sustainable growth.