An Overview of The Nigerian Economic Growth and Development

A. H. Ekpo & 0. J. Umoh

This article overviews the growth and development of the Nigerian economy from inde pendence to present times. Specifically, the following periods are discussed: the pro-oil boom decade (1960-70); the period of the oil boom (1971 1977); the period of stabilisation and structural adjustment (1986 - 1993) and the period of guided deregulation (1994 -1998).

The Nigerian economy has had a truncated history. In the period 1960-70, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) recorded 3.1 per cent growth annually. During the oil boom era, roughly 1970-78, QDP grew positively by 6.2 per cent annually - a remarkable growth. However, in the 1980s, GDP had negative growth rates. In the period 1988-1997 which con stitutes the period of structural adjustment and eco nomic liberalisation, the QDP responded to economic adjustment policies and grew at a positive rate of 4.0. In the years after independence, indus try and manufacturing sectors had positive growth rates except for the period 1980-1988 where indus try and manufacturing grew negatively by - 3.2 per cent and - 2.9 per cent respectively. The growth of agriculture for the periods 1960-70 and 1970-78 was unsatisfactory. In the early 1960s, the agricul tural sector suffered from low commodity prices while the oil boom contributed to the negative growth of agriculture in the 1970s. The boom in the oil sector lured labour away from the rural sector to urban centres.

The contribution of agriculture to GDP, which was 63 percent in 1960, declined to 34 per cent in 1988, not because the industrial sector increased its share but due to neglect of the agricultural sec tor. It was therefore not surprising that by 1975, the economy had become a net importer of basic food items. The apparent increase in industry and man ufacturing from 1978 to 1988, was due to activities in the mining sub-sector, especially petroleum. Capital formation in the economy has not been satisfactory. Gross domestic investment as a per centage of GDP, which was 16.3 per cent and 22.8 per cent in the periods 1965-73 and 1973-80 respectively, decreased to almost 14 per cent in 1980-88 and increased to 18.2 per cent in 1991 -98. Gross National Saving has been low and consists mostly of public savings especially during the period 1973-80. The current account bal ances before official transfers are negative for 1965-73,1980-88 and 1991-98.

The economy never experienced double-digit inflation during the 1960s. By 1976, however, the inflation rate stood at 23 per cent. It decreased to 11.8 per cent in 1979 and jumped to 41 percent and 72.8 per cent in 1989 and 1995, respectively. By 1998, the inflation rate had, however, reduced to 9.5 per cent from 29.0 per cent in 1996.

Unemployment rates averaged almost 5 per cent for the period 1976-1998. However, the statistics especially on unemployment, must be interpreted with caution. Most job seekers do not use the labour exchanges, apart from the inherent distor tions in the country's labour market. Based on some basic indicators, it appears that the economy performed well during the years immediately after independence and into the oil boom years. However, in the 1980s the economy was in a recession. The on-going economic reform programme is an attempt to put the economy on a recovery path with minimal inflation. The analysis that follows tries to discuss the developments in the economy for different periods.



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