In 2019, Africa’s GDP was $2,6 trillion, but new research from McKinsey estimates that this could have been closer to $3 trillion if the continent had managed to continue to grow at the pace it achieved from 2000 to 2010. Fully 65 percent of this difference can be explained by a drop off in growth in Africa’s “big three” economies, Egypt, South Africa, and Nigeria, with Nigeria having the largest impact.
The research, published today in a flagship report: Reimagining economic growth in Africa: Turning diversity into opportunity takes a granular look at Africa’s economic performance across countries, sectors, and companies, to highlight successes, identify obstacles to growth, and suggest ways the continent can harness its diversity to reignite growth after a decade of slowdown.
Nigeria is one of 13 African countries that the research classifies as “recent slowdowns”, economies that outperformed the continent’s average economic growth in the first decade of the millennium, but have since slowed between 2010-2019.
The slowing pace of economic growth in these 13 countries—representing 37 percent of Africa’s population and around 46 percent of its GDP in 2019—was driven by slower than average growth in exports and investment per capita compared to the rest of Africa, even though they had the highest levels of urbanization. These economies account for over half of the continent’s exports of primary commodities. Between 2010 and 2019, growth in these countries did not keep pace with population growth—in aggregate, 27 million more people in this cluster lived in poverty at the end of the period—and per capita consumption growth was stagnant at 0.8 percent a year on average.
However, the slow growth in these countries is not representative of the entire continent.
The report stresses Africa’s diversity and points out that nearly half its people live in countries where economies have grown consistently over the past 20 years. Economic growth in these primarily midsized economies in East and West Africa has averaged more than 4 percent annual GDP growth.
“In a stark illustration that there is no ‘one Africa’, decelerating growth among recent slowdown and slow grower economies combined to slow the continent’s growth. Nigeria had the largest impact. Its services sector alone was responsible for 30 percent of the continent’s slowing economic pace.” – Mayowa Kuyoro, partner in McKinsey’s Lagos office and co-author of the report.
Reaping the productivity dividend
As the fastest urbanizing continent on Earth, and home to a young and fast-growing workforce and growing consumer class, the report argues that, despite its disappointing performance over the past decade, Africa is an exciting new market that is ripe for prosperity.
One of the key trends driving this optimism is the fact that the African economy has been undergoing a profound structural shift to services over the past 20 years, as people left work in the fields to take jobs in trade and other services in cities. Employment in services increased from 30 percent to 39 percent over that period and the sector is set to absorb almost half of all new labor-market entrants by 2030, although in 2019, half the African workforce remained in agriculture.
But while services create significant opportunities for African countries to boost economic output and job creation, this can only be realized if productivity in the sector improves. In 2019, African services productivity was the lowest of any region in the world and the sector recorded negative productivity growth of -0.1 percent during the 2010-2019 decade. This is, in part, due to a skewed shift to certain subsectors, notably trade, that has low productivity by global standards due to high levels of informality and fragmentation. In contrast, financial and business services are highly productive and contribute the greatest economic value, accounting for nearly a fifth of Africa’s GVA today.
Targeted interventions to raise productivity across services include increasing digitization, developing skills, and exporting talent. The research found that if Africa matched the productivity growth of Asia’s strongest services hubs, it could add $1.4 trillion to the continent’s economy, almost doubling of the GVA from services today. This would create 225 million jobs by 2030—a crucial consideration in the light of Africa’s rapidly growing workforce.
Additional opportunities for productivity-led growth identified in the report lie in increasing domestic and export manufacturing to meet burgeoning local demand, increasing regional connectedness, investing to enhance resource productivity and to tap into new opportunities notably to support the global transition to net zero, and spurring the agricultural transition. Agricultural provides almost half of Africa’s employment and is crucial to the continent’s food security, so improving its productivity is important to lives and livelihoods, especially in light of rising threats from climate change and rapid urbanization.
“Productivity must be established as the foundation of economic growth and resilience on the continent. Africa can no longer rely on growth determined by the vicissitudes of the global demand for commodities and export markets. Its complex, multifaceted diversity and thriving demographics are assets that can be developed and fostered to support a productivity-led economy.” – Mayowa Kuyoro, partner in McKinsey’s Lagos office and co-author of the report.
Nigeria’s Intra-African Trade Surges by 40.8% in H1 2023
Nigeria‘s trade with the rest of Africa rose by 40.8 percent year-on-year in the first half of 2023 (H1’23), soaring to N1.839 trillion from N1.306 trillion in the corresponding period of 2022 (H1’22).
This resurgence marks a decisive departure from the declining trend observed in the nation’s intra-African trade since 2020, in terms of value.
Recent data sourced from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) reveals that Nigeria’s intra-African trade in H1’21 stood at N1.47 trillion, accounting for a significant portion of the total foreign trade of N21.79 trillion during the same period.
Similarly, in H1’20, the country’s intra-African trade stood at N1.67 trillion, contributing to the N14.55 trillion total foreign trade recorded within that period.
The NBS data pertaining to Nigeria’s external trade with the rest of Africa also highlights the expanding influence of intra-Africa trade when compared to the nation’s overall foreign trade in the past three years.
The N1.839 trillion recorded in H1’23 represents a substantial 7.42 percent of the total foreign trade, which amounted to N24.789 trillion during the period.
In comparison, the N1.306 trillion recorded in H1’22 accounted for 5.05 percent of the N25.843 trillion total foreign trade during that period.
In H1’21, N1.47 trillion represented 6.75 percent of the total foreign trade of N21.79 trillion, while in H1’20, the N1.67 trillion recorded contributed a significant 11.48 percent to the N14.55 trillion total foreign trade for that period.
It is noteworthy that Nigeria’s trade with the rest of the African continent in H2’2022 reached N2.095 trillion, constituting 8.98 percent of the total foreign trade of N23.32 trillion within the same period.
On an annual basis, Nigeria’s intra-African trade volume had been steadily declining since 2021 when the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) was initiated. In 2020, the percentage of Nigeria’s intra-African trade stood at 11.03 percent, but it progressively dwindled to 7.46 percent in 2021 and further dropped to 6.5 percent in 2020. This trend reflects a relatively sluggish start for the AfCFTA.
It’s worth noting that Nigeria is not among the African countries that have commenced trading under the Guided Trade Initiative (GTI) of the AfCFTA.
According to Mrs. Odiri Erewa-Meggison, Chairperson of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria’s Export Promotion Group (MANEG), Nigeria’s absence from the initial GTI batch stems from the fact that the minimum requirements for participation had not been met at the program’s outset.
In contrast, eight countries—Rwanda, Cameroon, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Tanzania, and Tunisia—have already begun operations under the GTI, having satisfied the necessary prerequisites for trade under the agreement.
Significant Rise in Public Debt Stock – Coronation Economic Note
According to Nigeria’s Debt Management Office (DMO), total public debt increased by 75% q/q or N38.5trn to N87.4trn at end-June ’23. On a y/y basis, public debt increased by 104%. As at end-June ’23, public debt was equivalent to 43.7% of 2022 nominal GDP. This is above the DMOs debt-to-GDP ratio target of 40% within 2020-2023.
However, still below the limit of 55% set by the World Bank for countries within Nigeria’s peer group. We note that Nigeria’s debt-to-GDP ratio is relatively low when compared with other African emerging economies such as Ghana (88.8%), Egypt (87.2%), South Africa (67.4%), Kenya (67.3%).
The rise in the public debt stock can be largely attributed to the recent inclusion of the securitized N22.7trn CBN ways and means advances to the FGN. The fx depreciation triggered by the fx liberalization policy also contributed to the surge in the total public debt stock. To put this in perspective, at end-June ’22 the fx rate closed at N425.1 per USD (NAFEX) vs N769 per USD at end-June ’23.
As for total domestic debt, we noticed a 68% q/q increase to N54trn at end-June ’23. There were q/q increases recorded across FGN bonds (127.7% q/q), FGN Savings bond (10.4% q/q) and promissory notes (3.7% q/q). The DMO had set out to raise a maximum of N3.6trn at end-Q3 ’23 through FGN bonds. However, YTD, it has raised N4.3trn (exceeding its borrowing target by 19.4%). The FY 2023 domestic borrowing target of N7.04trn will likely be exceeded.
The domestic debt for states and the FCT increased by 7.4% q/q to N5.8trn at end-June ’23 from N5.4trn recorded at end-March ’23. On a y/y basis, it grew by 20.8%. The most indebted states include Lagos (N996.4bn), Delta (N465.4bn), Ogun (N293.2bn), Rivers (N225.5bn) and Imo (N220.8bn).
Meanwhile, the external debt stock increased marginally by 1.4% q/q to USD43.2bn at endJune ’23 compared with USD42.6bn recorded at end-March ’23. Multilateral lenders such as the World Bank, IMF, AFDB, as well as bilateral lenders like China, Japan, India, and France collectively accounted for 60.9% of the external debt stock while commercial loans (Eurobonds and Diaspora bonds), promissory notes and syndicated loans accounted for 39.1% Turning to debt servicing, we note that as at end-June ’23, the FGN has spent N2.34trn on debt servicing (N1.44trn on domestic and N900bn on external).
Based on latest data in the public domain (i.e., as at end-March ’23), the debt-service-to-revenue ratio stood at 83%. We expect debt service costs to remain elevated (in nominal terms) due to the impact of the fx liberalization policy and additional borrowing on the back of the FGN budget deficit.
In a separate report by the DMO, the debt-service-to-revenue ratio for 2023 was pegged at 75%, reflecting the urgent need to improve government revenue. According to the DMO, to achieve a sustainable debt-to-GDP ratio, the FGN needs to increase its revenue base from the projected N10.5trn for FY 2023 to c.N15.5trn.
The constraints around government revenue growth have led to overreliance on borrowing to finance the FGN budget. There are deliberate efforts towards strengthening the fiscal landscape. The current administration has set up a Fiscal Policy and Tax Reforms Committee. We expect the committee’s efforts to assist with ensuring a minimum tax-to-GDP ratio of 18% by 2026, expand the tax net, and eliminate the tax gaps. Based on industry sources, it is estimated that Nigeria loses c.N20trn annually on the back of incidences of tax evasion.
FG Pays N169.4 Billion for Subsidy in August to Keep Pump Price at N620/Litre
Amidst President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s repeated assurances of subsidy removal, it has come to light that the Federal Government disbursed N169.4 billion as subsidy payments in August to maintain the pump price of petrol at N620 per litre.
This revelation has raised eyebrows and ignited discussions about the future of fuel subsidies in Nigeria.
Investigation, backed by a document from the Federal Account Allocation Committee (FAAC), reveals that the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) paid $275 million as dividends to Nigeria through NNPC Limited. Out of this, NNPC Limited allocated $220 million (equivalent to N169.4 billion at N770/$) to cover the Petroleum Motor Spirit (PMS) subsidy, keeping it artificially low.
This move effectively indicates a resurrection of the subsidy system, which the government had promised to eliminate.
Under former President Buhari’s administration, Nigeria saw record-high spending on petrol subsidies. Reports from the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) show that subsidies cost N1.99 trillion from 2015 to 2020.
In 2021 alone, NNPC reported a subsidy cost of N1.57 trillion, with an additional N1.27 trillion from January to May 2022. The government had allocated N3 trillion in the budget to cover subsidy costs from June 2022 to June 2023, amounting to N7.83 trillion spent on subsidies during Buhari’s tenure.
Global oil market dynamics are further complicating the subsidy issue. Brent crude prices exceeded $95 per barrel, while the naira depreciated against the US dollar, undermining Nigeria’s pledge to remove petrol subsidies.
Despite higher international crude prices and exchange rate pressures, the government has held the pump price at N620/litre.
The situation has also strained petroleum marketers, who face rising international prices, a weakening naira, and government-mandated price caps. International petrol prices, exchange rates, and additional costs have collectively driven up the landing cost of PMS to about N728.64 per litre.
The government’s strategy to sustain the N620 per litre price involved a $3 billion crude repayment loan with Afrexim Bank to bolster the naira. However, this loan has reportedly stalled due to the withdrawal of other lenders.
While the government claims the subsidy is a temporary measure to ease the economic burden on Nigerians, experts argue that it highlights the need for a functional refinery and currency stability.
Without these factors in place, petrol prices will remain susceptible to fluctuations in global oil markets and exchange rates, potentially impacting the masses.
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