With an estimated inflow of $25 billion remitted by Nigerians in diaspora in 2018, chief economist at PriceWaterCoopers (PwC) Nigeria, Prof Andrew Nevin, yesterday, said Nigeria's citizens living outside the country are its biggest export.
Nigerians in diaspora in 2017 had remitted N22 billion, making it the highest in the Sub-Saharan Africa region followed by Senegal and Ghana with $2.2 billion each for the year. Currently, the country is in the top five nations in global remittances.
PwC's Chief Economist, in a report titled, "Nigeria Economic Outlook: Top 10 Themes For 2019", noted that remittances remitted to Nigeria represent 6.1 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and translate to 83 per cent of the Federal Government budget in 2018.
He said Nigeria's migrant remittance inflows was also seven times larger than the net official development assistance (foreign aid) received in 2017 of $3.359 billion, stating that, "Nigeria's biggest export is not oil; it is actually people, because of the remittances coming in."
The report noted that Nigeria is projected to add no fewer than 200 million people to its current population of 196 million between 2018 and 2050 and the country's population is expected to surpass that of the United States, and is currently ranked the third most populous in the world by 2050.
"The last population census in Nigeria was held in 2006, over a decade ago. Assessing Nigeria's current growth rate necessitates the occurrence of another major census to gauge the actual growth rate and enable critical strategic decisions to be made regarding population-related issues such as housing, food supply, employment, among others."
Nevin, in the report, said PwC expects the forex market to remain largely stable in early 2019, "however, volatility in the oil market may cause depreciation that could range from about N390 to N415 per dollar by year-end 2019.
"In the bid to sustain its policy of exchange rate stability amidst sustained demand pressures, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) increased dollar injections into the foreign exchange market by 87 per cent to $40 billion in 2018.
Ahead of the presidential election, the report projects policy continuity with all the reform policies intact and the economy continuing its recovery albeit at a slow pace, if the incumbent government retains power.
The emergence of a new government, it said, will see new policies are formulated or potential re-adjustment to existing policies with focus on deepening the recovery of the economy, while a heightened political risk will see political tension accelerating in the wake of the 2019 general elections, negatively impacting policy implementation with significant security risks across parts of the country.