Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country, with an estimated population of 190.9 million; it also has the largest economy, estimated at $376 billion in 2017 (World Bank, 2017). The economy hinges critically on the service sector, while oil is relied upon as the main source of foreign earnings. Despite its huge potential, Nigeria has failed to translate its resource endowment and strategic economic and demographic positions into sustained economic development. In fact, the country’s performance is abysmally low with regard to key development indicators. A portion (46 per cent) of its huge population is poor by World Bank definitions, and socioeconomic outcomes remain among the worst globally (World Bank, 2017). Specifically, Nigeria has the highest number of out-of-school children in the world (13 million in 2018), coupled with high rates of infant and maternal mortality (figure 1). Furthermore, the country suffers from inadequate and dilapidated infrastructure across the energy, housing and transport sectors. This is in relation to about $30 billion in budgeted spending for the 2018 fiscal year by the federal government, which reflects the enormous development financing challenges (Federal Ministry of Budget and National Planning, 2018). Despite these poor development indicators, the country has made modest progress in improving revenue streams, with recent developments in sectors other than oil such as the agriculture and mineral sectors.
Recently released labour force report by the NBS shows a quarter-over-quarter increase in Nigerias working age and labour force population. Working population rose from 110.29 million in 2017Q2, to 111.13 million persons in 2017Q32. The working age population in 2017Q3 constituted 85.08 million persons in the labour force (an increase from 83.94 million), of which 40 percent were either unemployed or underemployed. Thus, total employed persons in the quarter reached 69.1 million.
Business activities in Africa slightly improved in February 2017 albeit at a slow rate. Sales Managers Index (SMI) for Africa an assessment of business condition in Pan-African Economy increased by 0.4 index points from 52.2 points in January 2017 to 52.6 points in February 2017. Sub-Saharan African countries experienced better business activities than North Africa in the review period. The two largest economies in the region, Nigeria (48.5 index points) and South Africa (49.2 Index points) registered contraction in the review period as Nigeria remained in recession while high unemployment remained a problem in South Africa. The growth in SMI recorded in the review period is driven by improvement in business confidence and sales price which outweighed the fall in other components market growth, sales output and staffing level.
Recent data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) shows that the value of capital imported to Nigeria declined by 54.34 percent; from $1.56 billion 2015Q4to $710.97 million in 2016Q11. This is the lowest value since the data was first released in 2007. Huge declines in Portfolio Investment (71.54 percent) and other Investment (44.84 percent) were the major drivers of the trend within the period. A myriad of factors have contributed to the decline in investments. The plunge in crude oil prices, and the resultant negative signals on investors confidence, was a key factor. This was exacerbated by the FOREX restrictions and delays in the assentation of 2016 Appropriation Bill. While the slight increases in oil prices and the recent signing of the budget into law could improve the general economic prospects, monetary authorities need to proffer solutions to the negative effects of the current FOREX restrictions on investments.