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Intra-Regional Trade Potential a Key Focus in New Report

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A new focus report, produced by Oxford Business Group (OBG) in partnership with the African Economic Zones Organisation (AEZO), shines a spotlight on the continent’s rapidly developing industrial sector, which is poised to become a key driver of broader economic growth as regional integration increases.

Titled ”Economic Zones in Africa – Focus Report”, the report was launched at the AEZO’s 6th Annual Meeting II, which took place on November 25 at the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat office in Ghana, with participants also able to attend remotely. The meeting was held under the banner “Connecting African Special Economic Zones (SEZs) to Global Value Chains at the era of the AfCFTA” and explored a range of topical issues relating to SEZs, from their potential to boost trade to the impact of Covid-19 on the continent’s supply chains.

The focus report examines the wealth of benefits that the AfCFTA is expected to deliver to both Africa’s economic zones and the businesses located in them, which range from greater market access to a reduction in trade barriers and lower production costs.

The disruption that the pandemic brought to supply chains and the opportunities emerging from the health crisis for businesses to become part of nascent regional value chains across a more closely connected continent are a key focus.

The report also charts the digital transformation taking place in many of Africa’s economic zones, as businesses make the move away from traditional segments to high-tech processes and digital services, adding value to their offerings in the process.

In addition, it provides in-depth analysis of the drive evident among many SEZs to put environmental, social and governance principles and sustainable business practices at the heart of their strategies, at a time when ethical investment and alignment with the UN Sustainable Development Goals are high on the global agenda.

The report includes in-depth case studies and viewpoints by representatives from key industry players namely: Tanger Med; Polaris Parks; Lagos Free Zones; Ghana Free Zones Authority; Misurata Free Zone; and Sebore Farms.

It also includes a contribution from Ahmed Bennis, Secretary General, AEZO, in which he highlights the role that SEZs are playing in the continent’s industrial transformation and the importance of supporting their development.

“Economic zones can play a game-changing role in Africa’s diversification and inclusion by providing end-to-end solutions and services that support industrial upgrades and increase countries’ attractiveness for investment,” he said. “With the implementation of AfCFTA and the post-Covid-19 recovery that the world is beginning to experience, we believe that real investment opportunities exist in Africa at this moment, which can translate into job creation and social and economic development. Africa has resources that need to be developed and economic zones can play a key role in this.”

Bernardo Bruzzone, OBG’s Regional Editor for Africa, added that while African economic zones had experienced production problems during the pandemic due to global supply chain disruptions, ongoing remedial action, including new infrastructure and human capital development, would help provide resilience against future external shocks.

“Africa’s real GDP growth is forecast to reach 3.4% in 2021, with an increase in intra-regional trade and improved connectivity among the facilitators of economic recovery,” Bruzzone said. “Looking ahead, we see economic zones as having a key role to play in helping the AfCFTA achieve its potential through the development of new strategies that will lead to a more diverse, higher-value range of exports.”

The study forms part of a series of tailored reports that OBG is currently producing with its partners, alongside other highly relevant, go-to research tools, including a range of country-specific Growth and Recovery Outlook articles and interviews.

Economy

Manufacturing Sector Records 7.70% Quarter-on-Quarter Growth in Q4 2023

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In the fourth quarter of 2023, Nigeria’s manufacturing sector grew by 7.70% year-on-year, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

The surge in growth reflects a significant uptick from the preceding quarter and underscores the resilience of the manufacturing industry amid economic challenges.

This growth trajectory indicates positive momentum and signals potential opportunities for economic recovery and development.

The manufacturing sector, comprising thirteen key activities ranging from oil refining to motor vehicles and assembly, demonstrated notable dynamism across various subsectors.

This growth surge is attributed to increased production, enhanced operational efficiencies, and strategic investments across the manufacturing value chain.

Despite facing headwinds such as supply chain disruptions and regulatory uncertainties, the sector’s robust performance underscores its pivotal role in driving economic diversification, job creation, and industrialization efforts in Nigeria.

Moving forward, sustaining this growth momentum will require continued policy support, investment in infrastructure, and efforts to address key bottlenecks hindering the sector’s expansion.

By fostering an enabling business environment and promoting innovation and technology adoption, Nigeria’s manufacturing sector can further catalyze inclusive economic growth and contribute significantly to the nation’s development agenda.

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Economy

Nigeria’s GDP Grows by 3.46% in Q4 2023, Driven by Services

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Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 3.46% in the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2023 on the back of robust performance of the services sector, according to data released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

The GDP expansion though slightly lower than the 3.52% recorded in the same period of 2022, reflects a positive trajectory for the Nigerian economy amid ongoing challenges.

The growth rate surpassed the 2.54% recorded in the preceding quarter, indicating a rebound in economic activity.

The services sector emerged as the key driver of growth expanding by 3.98% and contributing 56.55% to the overall GDP.

This sector’s resilience underscores its pivotal role in Nigeria’s economic landscape, encompassing diverse industries such as telecommunications, finance, and real estate.

Also, the agriculture sector experienced growth, expanding by 2.10% compared to the same period in 2022.

Meanwhile, the industry sector recorded a notable improvement, growing by 3.86%, a stark contrast to the -0.94% contraction observed in the fourth quarter of 2022.

On an annual basis, Nigeria’s GDP expanded by 2.74% in 2023 compared to 3.10% in the previous year, reflecting sustained but moderated growth.

The positive trajectory in GDP growth reflects resilience in the face of various economic challenges.

However, sustaining and accelerating growth will require continued efforts to address structural bottlenecks, foster investment, and promote inclusive economic policies across sectors.

Nigeria’s Oil Sector Growth

During the fourth quarter of 2023, Nigeria’s oil sector posted a real growth rate of 12.11% year-on-year, signifying a significant improvement from previous periods.

This was driven by the surge in average daily oil production to 1.55 million barrels per day (mbpd), a positive shift in the sector’s performance.

Despite challenges such as global market fluctuations and production constraints, the oil sector contributed 4.70% to the nation’s total real GDP in Q4 2023.

Nigeria’s Non-Oil Sector

Nigeria’s non-oil sector sustained growth momentum, posting a 3.07% real growth rate in Q4 2023.

This growth was primarily attributed to key industries including finance, telecommunications, agriculture, manufacturing, and construction.

Accounting for 95.30% of the nation’s GDP in the same quarter, the non-oil sector continues to drive economic diversification efforts and reduce dependence on oil revenues.

Despite facing challenges, such as infrastructure deficits and regulatory bottlenecks, the sector’s resilience underscores its pivotal role in fostering sustainable economic development and inclusive growth agendas.

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Economy

Senate Rejects Ministry of Power’s Proposed Electricity Tariff Hikes

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The Nigerian Senate has firmly opposed the Ministry of Power’s proposed electricity tariff hikes, emphasizing the need to alleviate the burden on citizens amidst prevailing economic hardships.

The rejection comes as a response to the Ministry’s consideration of increasing electricity tariffs and removing subsidies in the face of escalating economic challenges across the nation.

During a recent plenary session, Senator Aminu Abbas moved a motion urging the Senate to retain electricity subsidies to mitigate the impact of rising living costs on Nigerians.

The motion garnered unanimous support, with senators expressing concerns over the implications of tariff hikes on an already financially strained populace.

The Senate’s resolution also directed the Committee on Power to conduct a comprehensive investigation into the N2 trillion required for electricity subsidy payments, outstanding debts within the sector, and the state of metering nationwide.

This decision reflects the Senate’s commitment to ensuring transparency and accountability in the power sector’s financial management.

The rejection underscores the Senate’s stance against policies that could exacerbate the financial burdens faced by Nigerian citizens.

The move aligns with the Senate’s broader efforts to prioritize the welfare of the populace and advocate for measures that promote economic stability and affordability.

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