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Will investors like Africa's new top dog?

Monday, April 07, 2014 - 02:33

April 7 - Nigeria becomes Africa's biggest economy after revising its economic benchmarks, almost doubling GDP and overtaking South Africa. Hayley Platt looks at the impact this may have on investors.

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It's the N in MINT - the latest set of emerging countries - and Nigeria has just become Africa's largest economy. Revised figures show its GDP was more than $500 billion last year - 89% higher than the previous year and far more than South Africa's $350 billion. It's debt to GDP ratio also shrank from 19% to 11%. Mike Ingram is from BGC Partners. SOUNDBITE: Mike Ingram, Market Strategist, BGC Partners, saying (English): "I think certainly it's positive news for investors, or would be investors in Nigeria. Although of course Nigeria is still a very very long way away from becoming an investment destination for international retail investors." It was the first time Nigeria had overhauled its calculations since 1990. And the new data also shows how the economy has diversified during that time. The share held by the oil and gas sectors has fallen by more than a half to just over 14%. Agriculture now accounts for just one fifth of GDP - it was previously more than a third. And industry too is down by a similar amount. In contrast Telecoms is up from less than 1% to almost 9%. And Nigeria even has a growing film industry which contributes to GDP. SOUNDBITE: Mike Ingram, Market Strategist, BGC Partners, saying (English): "It tells you that it's extremely dynamic. We've seen revisions in western europe, particularly on the back of the IT revolution in recent years and that has also caused some substantial changes. So it's perhaps not surprising that Nigeria, where everything is so much more dynamic and so much more influx has seen this massive, massive revision to nominal GDP." Twenty five year's ago Nigeria only had one telecoms operator. Today it's growing mobile phone industry is a key source of jobs, even though the network is one of the least reliable in Africa. Its construction and real estate sectors have also grown by more than 10 percent. And companies like Nestle, Heineken and Standard Bank have been pouring millions of dollars into the country. The new figures make Nigeria the 26th biggest economy in the world. It has ambitions to be in the top twenty and with a population of 170 million - South Africa only has 51 million - that's a realistic prospect. It already expects annual growth for 2013 to be 7.4% - almost as high as China's figure for this year.

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Will investors like Africa's new top dog?

Monday, April 07, 2014 - 02:33