Nigeria has Africa's largest population and is
expected to have the continent's second largest economy,
after South Africa. The oil sector is a central
component that generates large government revenue. But
it has relatively few links with the economy in general;
the country is in many ways a typical African
development economy. Most of the population depends on
traditional agriculture, small-scale trade and simple
manufacturing industry for their livelihoods.
Nigeria was once also one of Africa's richest
countries, measured in terms of GDP per capita. Now many
African states have moved on, even though the
development of the large oil resources could have been
quite different. This is especially true as the oil is
of very high quality and things a high price. Another
competitive advantage is the relative proximity to
Europe and North America - about half of the oil is sold
to the United States. But a very small part of the
income from the oil has benefited the people. Instead,
oil dependency has created a culture of corruption,
inefficiency and waste. Many Nigerians have come to
regard the oil as a curse rather than a blessing for the
Major imports by Nigeria, covering a full list of top products imported by the country and trade value for each product category.
When oil recovery accelerated in the 1970s, the
future looked promising. The government made major
investments in important infrastructure but also in
clean boasting projects. A modern economy based on the
oil industry grew, while other industries were
neglected. Nigeria's economy became very sensitive to
fluctuations in the world market price of oil. When
revenues plummeted in the early 1980s, the governing
bodies were unable to slow down the investment plans
they had begun. They were forced to borrow money abroad
and thus created a debt crisis.
Political instability, increasingly degraded
infrastructure and galloping corruption contributed to
the failure of the military regimes that dominated the
1980s and 1990s in their attempts to reduce oil
dependency. The oil normally accounts for around 70
percent of the state's revenue and over 90 percent of
exports. However, its share of the total economy was not
calculated at more than 14 percent in 2013 and does not
make a major impact on employment.
Abbreviationfinder.org: Check this abbreviation website to find three letter ISO codes for all countries in the world, including NG which represents the country of Nigeria.
After the return to civilian government in 1999, the
government tried to reform the economy in a market
liberal direction but also wanted to make social
initiatives. Oil money began to be invested in roads,
schools, water supply and health care. In addition,
international lenders granted debt relief of $ 18
billion in 2005, in exchange for Nigeria repaying
bilateral debt of $ 12 billion. Thanks to the
settlement, Nigeria's external debt fell from 36 to 4
per cent of GDP between 2004 and 2007. The total
government debt was around 10 percent in 2014.
Annual growth was around 2 percent in the late 1990s
and just over 4 percent in the first years after the
turn of the millennium. In recent years, it has been
more robust and has been around an average of around 7
percent for a decade. The oil industry benefited, among
other things, from more peaceful conditions in the Niger
Delta from 2009 (see Modern History). However, the
collapse in the world market price of oil that started
in 2014 has led to a slowdown with shrinking foreign
exchange reserves as a result. The state has been forced
to increase foreign loans in order to pay salaries to
public employees, which has contributed to a sharp
increase in the budget deficit. In 2016, the economy was
in a deep recession and growth was negative.
The previous growth was otherwise mainly due to good
development in areas other than the oil and gas sector.
Not least, agriculture has gone well. In the service
sector, the telecom industry has given an important
However, the problems remain great even when growth
is strong. According to the organization Transparency
International's index, Nigeria is among the most corrupt
countries in the world, even though the country has
stepped up a bit from the absolute bottom. An
international accounting firm estimated in 2015 that the
state could lose about a third of national income due to
The VAT rate is only 5 percent, one of the lowest in
the world, and covers only one third of all
Big black economy
The informal sector is extensive, which means that
figures relating to the economy are not very reliable.
The informal sector also contains organized crime. The
so-called Nigerian letters - scams by e-mail or letters
addressed to foreigners - are considered to be an
important source of foreign currency. Up to a tenth of
the oil is expected to disappear before it reaches the
export terminals. Nigeria is also a transit country in
the international trade in drugs. Industrial and
agricultural goods are smuggled across borders and are
not reported in any statistics.
Much of what is smuggled is oil products, such as
gasoline. The government has several times tried to
eliminate the extensive fuel subsidies that make
gasoline so cheap in Nigeria but which cost the state
multibillion. It has been stopped every time by
extensive protests. An attempt was made at New Year
2012, but the government was forced back as strikes and
protests paralyzed the country and several people were
killed in clashes between protesters and police.
Another major challenge in the process of
accelerating growth is the large lack of electricity,
transport opportunities and communication services.
The large informal economy means, among other things,
that the state loses large tax revenues. Many employees
have very low wages and survive by, as in old times,
growing their own food. The system paves the way for
corruption at all levels, from lost oil billions at the
top to bribes paid at the grassroots level in business,
justice, schools and communica- tions.
In February 2020, the government announced that
special investments would be made to small farmers and
young entrepreneurs. $ 248 million is allocated to loans
for small-scale agricultural projects and $ 20 million
goes to young entrepreneurs in the technology industry.
FACTS - FINANCE
GDP per person
US $ 2,028 (2018)
US $ 397,270 million (2018)
1.9 percent (2018)
Agriculture's share of GDP
21.2 percent (2018)
Manufacturing industry's share of GDP
7.8 percent (2018)
The service sector's share of GDP
52.0 percent (2018)
11.3 percent (2019)
Government debt's share of GDP
27.3 percent (2018)
US $ 40,238 million (2017)
US $ 45,742 million (2017)
US $ 32,616 million (2017)
US $ 10,381 million (2017)
Commodity trade's share of GDP
26 percent (2018)
Main export goods
oil, liquefied natural gas
Largest trading partner
USA, China, India, Brazil, Spain, Netherlands, France
The result of the presidential election determined
The Supreme Court affirms, with the votes 3-4, the final result of the 2007
presidential election. Yar'Adua's counter-candidates Buhari and Abubakar had
argued that cheating had occurred.
More violence in Jos
Hundreds of people die over a weekend in continued clashes between Christians
Over 360 dead in Jos
Clashes occur between Christians and Muslims in connection with municipal
elections, and both churches and mosques are burned down.
Half the government dismissed
Yar'Adua also announces that major cuts are to be expected due to falling oil
Redeployment in the defense leadership
Yar'Adua replaces the country's defense chief and the chiefs of the army, the
air force and the navy. According to media speculation, the reason would be that
the government is threatened, but it is rejected by the president.
New violence in the Niger Delta
After an army operation in the state of Rivers, Mend proclaims an "oil war"
and carries out a number of attacks on plants and pipelines for a week. Then
Mend again announces a cease-fire.
The baking peninsula is handed over to Cameroon
Nigeria's formal surrender of control points to the conflict with the
neighboring country (see Foreign Policy and Defense).
Attack at sea hits hard on oil production
When Mend attacks Shell's oil platform Bonga, twelve miles offshore, all of
Nigeria's oil production falls by ten percent at a time. This is the first time
an attack has been carried out so far out at sea.
Nigeria originated as Africa's largest oil producer
Angola is now reported to be the African country that pumps up the most oil,
despite significantly less oil reserves.
Two ministers resign
They have been accused of stealing state funds in the first corruption
scandal of Yar'Adua's government.
Governor's election annulled
An appeal court orders re-election in Sokoto and Bayelsa within three months.
In both cases, PDP governors are thus forced to leave their post.
Mend leader prosecuted
Okah and his comrade are being charged with treason (see February 2008).
Mend leader extradited to Nigeria
The leader of the Nigerian militant group, Henry Okah, is extradited together
with another leader from Angola where he was arrested a few months earlier.
Violence in the Niger Delta
The military seizes 24 barges with stolen crude oil, triggering new violence.
Shell oil company is forced to shut down its operations following pipeline