The Mile One market in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. Picture: BLOOMBERG
The Mile One market in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. Picture: BLOOMBERG

Abuja — Nigeria has exited its worst economic recession in more than two decades, notching up growth of 0.55% in the second quarter of 2017, the country’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said on Tuesday.

Data showed that the economic recovery was driven by improved performance in the oil, agriculture, manufacturing and trade sectors of the economy.

Since the first quarter of 2016, the Nigerian economy had contracted for five consecutive quarters, NBS said. The west African powerhouse slipped into recession for the first time in more than two decades in August 2016.

"In the second quarter of 2017, the nation’s GDP grew by 0.55% (year on year) in real terms, indicating the emergence of the economy from recession after five consecutive quarters of contraction since quarter one of 2016," it said. Nigeria, which depends on the oil sector for 70% of state revenues and 90% of export earnings, has been battered by lower oil prices since mid-2014, which have slashed government revenues, weakened the currency and caused dollar shortages, frustrating business and households.

The nation’s economic woes were exacerbated by militant attacks on key oil infrastructure in the restive Niger delta, slashing output. The crisis is heaping pressure on President Muhammadu Buhari, who took office in May 2015 on an anti-corruption platform. His government is also grappling with separatist agitation in the country’s south-east; farmer-herder clashes in the central region; a Boko Haram insurgency in the north-east; and kidnappings and militancy in the south.

Analysts said the outlook for more growth looks positive for Nigeria. "You can see that there have been improved performances in non-oil sectors in the second quarter," said Bismarck Rewane of the Lagos-based Financial Derivatives Company.

"The prospects for more robust growth are bright. I hope the current economic diversification efforts which see efforts being given to agriculture and mining will be sustained," he said, noting the nation’s economy would also be bouyed if an ongoing truce with Niger delta militants was maintained. "If there are no attacks on oil facilities and production is increased and Nigeria earns more money, then the economy will stabilise."

Nigeria’s oil output has ramped up to an average of 2-million barrels per day from a low of 1.3-million in 2016 following government peace talks with the oil rebels.

AFP

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