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IMF report: Nigeria’s economy bounces back, overtakes S/Africa as biggest economy

•Nigeria can lead most recognised countries, if ... —FG

A new report from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has projected Nigeria as Africa’s biggest economy, in spite of its current challenges.

News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Nigeria is placed ahead of South Africa and Egypt which are second and third respectively.

In August, Nigeria was reported to have lost its position as Africa’s biggest economy to South Africa, following the recalculation of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

IMF had downgraded Nigeria’s economy vis-à-vis South Africa’s as a consequence of the sustained loss suffered by the naira against the dollar while the rand, on the other hand, had gained against the dollar.

Specifically, the rand gained more than 16 per cent against the dollar between January and August 2016, while the naira lost more than a third of its value after the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) removed a currency peg in June.

While the two economies had faced serious challenges since the beginning of the year as a result of dwindling value of commodities, the impact was more on the Nigerian economy as it shrank by 0.4 per cent in the first quarter as a result low oil prices and output as well as shortage of foreign currency to sustain imports. On the contrary, South African economy contracted by 0.2 per cent from a year earlier as farming and mining output declined.

As a result, the IMF then scaled down the value of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which was $510 billion in 2015, to $296 billion, a contraction of about 42 per cent. Although the South African economy was also scaled down, the contraction was comparatively marginal from $370billion to $310 billion. With that South African economy moved to the first position as the largest on the continent.

South Africa had lost the prized position to Nigeria in 2013 after the rebasing of Nigeria’s economy.

But the IMF’s World Economic Outlook for October, puts Nigeria’s GDP at 415.08 billion dollars, while South Africa’s GDP was put at 280.36 billion dollars.

According to the report, Egypt’s 2016 data is not available, but its 2015 size remained at 330.159 dollars while that of Algeria, one of the largest economies on the continent, is put at 168.318 billion dollars.

The United States, China and Japan maintain their spots as the largest economies in the world, ahead of Germany, United Kingdom and France.

According to a review in September, the current economic recession will outlast 2016, with a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) contraction of 1.7 per cent.

The IMF had predicted that Nigeria’s economy would grow away from a recession in 2017.

The country last witnessed a recession, for less than a year, in 1991, and experienced a prolonged one that started in 1982 and lasted until 1984.

President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration has so far disbursed over N700 billion in capital expenditure this year, part of a record N6.06 trillion (30 billion dollars) budget for 2016.

Meanwhile, the Federal Government has said that Nigeria could lead and take over from the most recognized countries in the world, if it utilised the enormous power of science and technology to attain remarkable achievements in industrialization, military capability, economic prosperity and social harmony.

It said Nigeria, being the most populous nation in Africa could take the lead and show what China achieved for Asia, the United States of America for North America, if Nigeria sought for the diversification of her economy in a sustainable and competitive manner by deploying science and technology as an instrument for economic growth.

The Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu stated this at the 1st African Conference on Biomedical Engineering and Sciences with the theme, “Appropriate Biomedical Technology for Africa”, organised by the National Association of Biomedical Sciences of Nigeria, held at the Nicon luxury Hotel, Abuja.

Dr Onu, in his keynote address, said that Nigeria was placing stronger emphasis on deploying biomedical engineering and sciences to develop innovative technologies.

This deployment, according to him, when fully operational, would create a new class of scientists and engineers that would strengthen the role of biomedical engineering in health care delivery and management.

He reiterated the commitment of President Buhari’s administration to promote innovative technologies that would reduce import dependence, enhance local content and strengthen self-sufficiency.

The minister then challenged the participants to critically examine the role that biomedical engineering and sciences could play in strengthening Africa’s search for its own identity and place of honour in the world, saying that,” the time has come for us to work as hard as we can in the pursuit of our peoples happiness, in a competitive world”.

Earlier in his address, the Deputy President of the International body, Professor Ir. Marc Nysenn, called on Africa to develop her technological innovations through harnessing her natural resources and intellects domiciled in the continent through biomedical engineering and sciences to make it a hub for Africa, as a developing economy.