Abuja — The World Bank has lowered Nigeria's real GDP (Gross Domestic Product) growth rate from 3.2 percent to 3.1 percent for 2022, amid weakening economic performance in the last six months.
In its latest Nigeria Development Update (NDU), launched in Abuja, yesterday, the bank said that the nation had to make hard choices or face a worse economic downturn, in the months and years ahead.
"The World Bank now projects that real GDP will grow by 3.1 percent in 2022 and 2.9 percent in 2023-24, 0.3 of a percentage point lower than the previous projections at the time of the June 2022 NDU," it said.
According to the organisation, "Nigeria's economic performance has weakened since the previous was published in June 2022 under the title of 'The Continuing Urgency of Business Unusual.'
"Despite favorable global oil prices, 'business as usual' economic management is not delivering desired outcomes and, even if a crisis is avoided in the near-term, long-standing policy and institutional challenges are persisting and severely constraining the economy."
It observed that the global economic environment has weakened, with economic activities in most major countries having slowed in 2022 amid high inflation and central banks shifting toward contractionary monetary policies.
"The rate of consumer price inflation," the bank noted, "has surged and is currently one of the highest globally. The consumer price index, already increasing at a high rate, accelerated in 2022 through October, to be up 21.1 percent y-o-y, a 17-year high."
The bank noted the irony of the Nigerian economy which has failed to benefit from the high oil prices, as has been the case with other oil producing nations of the world.
It said, "External and fiscal pressures have continued to grow, despite elevated global oil prices. Oil price booms have historically supported the Nigerian economy but this has not been the case in 2021-22. The average price of crude oil increased by over 150 percent from 2020 to 2022, yet Nigeria's macroeconomic performance has weakened over this time, and its fiscal space has shrunk.
"There are two reasons why Nigeria is not benefiting from high global oil prices: First, lower oil production: As a result of high production costs, theft and insecurity, joint-venture cash-call arrears, and inadequate investment, Nigeria's crude oil output has been falling since 2020 and has consistently been below its Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) quota since June 2020.
"Second, the ballooning cost of the petrol subsidy: The continuation of the petrol subsidy (deducted directly from oil revenues) implies forgone fiscal revenues of 2.5-2.7 percent of GDP in 2022. This, combined with the protracted decline in oil production, has resulted in the lowest levels of net oil revenues (in percent of GDP) being transferred to the government in over a decade."
The bank warned, therefore, "If Nigeria continues with "business-as-usual" policies, the country will effectively be choosing a path that will lead to people's prospects being hindered."
On policy choices before the Nigerian government, the bank insisted on urgent steps to restore macroeconomic stability; increasing oil and non-oil revenues; reducing inflation through a sequenced and coordinated mix of trade, monetary and fiscal policies to restore conditions for private investment and growth; removing petrol subsidy; and adopting a single, market-responsive exchange rate.
In his remarks, Alex Sienaert, World Bank Lead Economist for Nigeria and co-author of the Report, said, "Previous episodes of reform progress and high growth, such as in the 2000s, show that Nigeria's economy can turn around quickly, and its tremendous economic potential that could be unleashed is well-known.
If Nigeria chooses to make reforms that stabilize its macro-fiscal policy settings and support investment, this would be transformative for 80 million poor Nigerians, for Nigeria as a whole, and for Africa."