Nigeria’s economic growth rate rose to 2.55 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2019, its highest quarterly growth since the 2016 recession, according to a report released recently by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
In the report, the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate for the fourth quarter of 2019 rose by 2.55 per cent (year-on-year) in real terms compared to 2.28 per cent in the preceding quarter.
Also, the economy grew by 2.27 per cent in full-year 2019, compared to 1.91 per cent recorded in the preceding year.
The NBS released the economic performance indicators on the same day the federal government promised to give more incentives to strengthen the economy and the capital market.
The full-year 2019 GDP figure was slightly above the International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecast of 2.1 per cent.
Nevertheless, the latest GDP figures were still below Nigeria’s population growth rate of about three per cent, thereby prompting analysts that spoke with THISDAY to urge the federal government to address the structural imbalances constraining rapid GDP growth in the country.
The analysts also advised the government to take advantage of the opportunities in the agro-processing/value addition and the bio-economy to create employment for the youth.
They warned, however, that in spite of the improved performance in the economy, the difficult times may be far from being over unless current issues are addressed to pave the way for growth.
According to the GDP Report for Q4 and full-year, released by the statistical agency, aggregate GDP in Q4 stood at N39.57 trillion in nominal terms, higher than the N37.80 trillion in Q3 and N35.23 trillion recorded in the corresponding quarter of 2018.
GDP in real terms stood at N19.53 trillion. The NBS stated that the strong growth in Q4 represented the highest quarterly growth performance since the 2016 recession. However, quarter on quarter, real GDP growth was estimated at 5.59 per cent.
The average daily oil production in Q4, however, declined to 2.00 million barrels per day (mbpd) during the review period, representing -0.04mbpd lower than the production volume of 2.04mbpd in Q3; but indicated a rise of 0.09mbpd over the 1.91 mbpd recorded in the same quarter of 2018.
However, oil production remained consistently at or above 2.0mbpd all through 2019, the NBS added.
The economy was largely driven by the non-oil sector, which contributed 92.68 per cent to growth in Q4 and 91.22 per cent at full year while the oil sector contributed 7.32 per cent to GDP and 8.78 per cent in 2019.
Agriculture contributed 26.09 per cent to growth while industries accounted for 20.27 per cent as well as services which recorded 53.64 per cent contribution to growth.
Furthermore, manufacturing contributed 8.74 per cent to real GDP in Q4 and 9.06 per cent at full year.
Reacting to the NBS data, analysts urged the federal government to address the structural imbalances constraining rapid GDP growth in the country.
The analysts also want the government to take advantage of the opportunities in the agro-processing/value addition and the bio-economy to create employment opportunities.
The Managing Director, Cowry Assets Management Limited, Mr. Johnson Chukwu, said the Q4 GDP figure was an improvement over the previous quarter.
He, however, noted that historically, the last quarter of every year always record higher economic activities, compared with other quarters.
“We need to stimulate sectors like manufacturing, construction and the real estate sectors. These are sectors that would create employment and lead to inclusive growth in the economy.”
Also, an economist and former Director-General, Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), Dr. Chijioke Ekechukwu, said despite the performance, the economy may not be out of the woods.
He said insecurity remained a major bane in the country’s development aspirations, adding that there might not be much economic growth if the issue is not addressed.
On his part, the Head of Research, Afrinvest West Africa, Mr. Abiodun Keripe, called for reforms in the power and oil and gas sectors. He said: “We need to have stable power at market reflective prices. We still have issues with subsidies and some of these things need to be cut out. “Infrastructure needs to be improved on and these are things that can be done to help drive growth in the manufacturing sector.
Also, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, assured capital market operators that the federal government will introduce more tax incentives to boost investments in the capital market. She also said her ministry would work on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) to put policies in place that would enhance the growth of the market and the nation’s economy.