ABUJA: Nigeria on Sunday became Africa’s biggest economy, leap-frogging South Africa, after the government announced a long-overdue rebasing of the country’s gross domestic product.
The new calculations take into account changes in production and consumption since the last time the exercise was carried out in 1990, including an added focus on communications and the movie industry.
The data indicated that the economy grew to $453 billion in 2012, instead of $264 billion as measured by the World Bank for that year.
Estimates for 2013 indicated further expansion to $510 billion, Nigeria’s chief statistician, Yemi Kale, told a news conference in the capital, Abuja.
“Nigeria has moved to be the largest economy by GDP size in Africa and has moved to be the 26th largest economy in the world,” finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said.
“On a per capita basis, Nigeria is number 121 in the world. So, we have a total GDP size where we have moved up to 26th,” the former World Bank managing director added.
The widely expected results are based on calculations taking into account a range of new sectors and industries that were negligible or non-existent in 1990.
They include the mobile telephones market — Africa’s largest — music and the hugely popular local film industry, Nollywood.
Nollywood, for example, was now worth 853.9 billion naira ($5.1 billion, 3.7 billion euros) or 1.2 percent of GDP.
Global investors have been eyeing Nigeria as a potential boom market, along the lines of the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) 10 years ago.