Daily Maverick (Johannesburg)

6 April 2014

Africa: So Long, Suckers! Nigeria Overtakes South Africa in the Race for Economic Supremacy

analysis

Having finally got its calculations right, Nigeria is now officially Africa's largest economy. What does this mean, exactly? Not all that much for Nigeria's long-suffering citizens, whose lives are not materially affected by a few rearranged numbers on a spreadsheet.

It's a bigger deal for South Africa, actually: not only have we lost our economic crown, but we're losing our diplomatic clout to Nigeria too.

For just about as long as I've been doing this job (going on three years now), Nigeria has been promising to re-base its GDP. This is something most countries do every few years, to make sure that GDP calculations remain relevant - economies change, after all, and GDP calculations must change too to reflect this (see here for a more detailed explanation of how and why GDPs are re-based).

Nigeria hasn't rebased its GDP since 1993, meaning that goods are valued according to 1990 prices. As well as undervaluing existing industries, the calculations failed to account for new industries like telecoms, aviation, music and film production (Nollywood, remember, produces more films per year than any other country).

This problem was identified long ago, but the fix never happened - bogged down by ...

Ads by Google

Copyright © 2014 Daily Maverick. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 2,000 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 200 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.