Nigeria Data Overhaul That Lifted GDP Backed by World Bank

The World Bank said it supports Nigeria’s overhaul of its gross domestic product data that catapulted the economy ahead of South Africa’s as the biggest on the continent.

The Washington-based lender, along with the International Monetary Fund and the African Development Bank, cooperated with Nigeria’s statistics agency in rebasing the GDP data, the World Bank said in an e-mailed response to questions yesterday. The accuracy of the data can be improved further, it said.

Nigeria’s National Bureau of Statistics on April 6 revised its estimate of economic output in Africa’s top oil producer, increasing it by more than three-quarters to 80 trillion naira ($497 billion) for 2013. That compares with the World Bank’s 2012 GDP estimates of $263 billion for Nigeria and $384 billion for South Africa.

“We believe that the GDP rebasing is an important step forward in improving our understanding of the size and structure of the Nigerian economy,” the World Bank said. “This understanding is important for informing policies and the design of World Bank assistance to the country.”

Of the world’s 1.2 billion poor people, 7 percent live in Nigeria, the World Bank said on its website yesterday. Only two countries, India and China, are home to a greater share of poor people, it said.

The World Bank said it will continue to support the improvement in Nigeria’s economic data.

“We see the improvement of GDP and other statistics in Nigeria as still an on-going process,” it said. “We hope to continue to provide support to this process, and believe that the accuracy of GDP figures can be increased further following the completion of key new surveys for agriculture, industry, and households.”

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