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Nigerian Economy Expands at Faster Pace in Third Quarter

Nigeria’s economy, the second-largest in sub-Saharan Africa, expanded at a faster pace in the third quarter as the country pumped more oil, the National Bureau of Statistics said.

The growth rate was 6.5 percent in the three months through September, compared with 6.4 percent in the previous quarter, the Abuja-based agency said in an e-mailed statement today. The West African nation’s economy grew 7.4 percent in 2011.

“The oil sector witnessed positive growth for the first time in four quarters,” it said. “Slower non-oil sector growth was driven by growth in activities recorded in the building and construction, cement, hotel and restaurant, and electricity sectors.”

Africa’s top oil producer produced 2.5 million barrels a day of crude in the third quarter, compared with 2.4 million barrels a year earlier, the agency said. The oil industry, which accounts for 13 percent of total economic output, grew 0.1 percent compared with a contraction of 0.7 percent in the previous three months and 0.3 percent a year earlier.

“During the period, activities of vandals and oil theft decreased as a result of intensified surveillance instituted by government in the oil-producing areas,” the agency said. There was also “re-entry into previously abandoned fields by some oil majors and renewed production,” it said.

Agriculture Slows

Excluding oil, the economy expanded 7.6 percent in the third quarter, compared with 8.8 percent a year earlier, the agency said. The slowdown was led by agriculture, the biggest contributor to the country’s GDP, as well as trade, real estate and telecommunications, it said.

Agricultural GDP growth in the third quarter slowed to 3.9 percent, compared with 4.2 percent in the previous three months and 5.8 percent a year earlier. The decline was caused by insecurity in northern agriculture-producing states and flooding which peaked between late October and early November, the agency said.

Nigeria’s two biggest rivers, the Niger and the Benue, overflowed as dams let out water after heavy rains, killing 363 people, displacing 2.2 million and affecting almost 8 million from July to Oct. 31, according to the National Emergency Management Agency.

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