Nigeria overtook South Africa as Africa’s biggest economy after it overhauled its gross domestic data to at least $500 billion, according to data released by the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics on Sunday.
The GDP in 2013 for the country was 80.22 trillion naira ($509.9) billion, said Yemi Kale, who heads the statistics office. This is previously up from 42.3 trillion naira before it was rebased.
Kale added that the revision lowered the West African nation’s debt-to-GDP ratio from 19 percent in 2012 to 11 percent last year.
Most countries rebase GDP calculations after a few years to recognize changes in production, something Nigeria has never done since 1990. This means the new GDP estimates factored in new industries such as telecommunications, e-commerce and the local film industry, popularly known as “Nollywood” that now accounts for 1.4 percent of the total GDP.
In short, Nigeria increased the number of industries it tracks to 46 from 33. It also gave greater weight to financial services and telecommunications industries. This saw it overtake South Africa, which had a GDP of $384 billion in 2012 as per the World Bank estimates, as the biggest economy in Africa and 26th largest economy in the world.
However, its income per capita of $2688 is lower than South Africa’s and ranks the country at 121 in the world, said the Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.
“With better information we can see that our economy is more diversified than before,” she said, implying the growth of financial services and telecommunications according to Bloomberg.
The recalculations were prompted by increasing attention by foreign investors, according to Kale. He further added that the recalculations will be done every five years, in line with international trends.
Nigeria is Africa’s most populous nation with 170 million people. This large consumer base and growing capital market has raised its investment profile.
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