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EDITORIAL

Nigeria’s GDP And Population Growth

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Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), according to the latest report by the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS), recorded a real annual growth rate of 0.83 per cent in 2017.

The report also states that the GDP recorded a growth of 1.92 per cent in Q4 2017 (year-on-year) in real terms, maintaining its positive growth since the emergence of the economy from recession in Q2 2017, while its quarter on quarter, real GDP growth was 4.29 per cent as the year 2017 recorded a real annual growth rate of 0.83 percent higher by 2.42 per cent than –1.58 per cent recorded in 2016.

By definition, GDP represents the sum total monetary value of the following quantities: general goods and services produced within an economy, aggregate consumption, investment, government expenditure and total value of exported goods minus goods imported over a period of time.

As Nigeria continues to experience growth in its GDP after exiting recession in the second quarter of 2017, the nation’s burgeoning population has been a source of concern to many who believe that the nation’s GDP growth would not make much impact on the people unless something is done drastically to harness the large population for better output.

Economic experts are concerned with the rising demographics of the country. The population, they claim, is growing much faster than real growth while employment is on the decline.  Nigeria’s unemployment rate at 18.8 percent as at last year is still on the rise. Analysts have also cautioned that until the country starts recording a GDP growth of at least six per cent, the impact will not be felt by the citizens.

Also, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), said the major drawback for Nigeria’s economy is its growing population. Corroborating this, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele said recently that with a population growth of 2.6 per cent and an economy growing at 0.82 per cent, there is much more to be done. It is imperative that those saddled with the responsibility of managing Nigeria’s economy should step up the implementation of economic policies in the country.

So much can be achieved if the government can harness the large population properly to propel development because poorly managed population can retard an economy of a nation and keep the majority in poverty.

The United Nation’s World Population Prospects 2017 says that Nigeria’s current population of 185.59 million will exceed 300 million by 2050 to become the world’s third largest after India and China, displacing Indonesia, the United States and Pakistan. This means that at $2,178, Nigeria’s GDP per capita as per World Bank estimates, makes it a poor country despite being Africa’s largest economy.

In the face of these economic realities, the government needs to ensure population control and build an economy that is highly diversified from oil. Nigeria needs to grow its non-oil sectors and build a stronger economy that can cater for its citizens.

Taking a cue from the past, we have not done much. For instance, between the United Kingdom and Nigeria in 56 years (1960 and 2016), the population of the United Kingdom grew by 20 per cent while Nigeria’s population increased by more than 300 per cent. In contrast, in 2015, the GDPs of United Kingdom and Nigeria were $2.849 trillion and $481 billion respectively.

With limited availability of resources and overwhelming needs, family planning and child spacing must be brought to the front-burner of national discourse. The country just cannot keep dodging the issue and expect to leapfrog development. Nigeria can grow its GDP beyond projected figures if the nation could check its growing population. It is to be observed that despite a growing population, there is very little campaign around population control, a situation that has led to high rate of youth unemployment. Most homes living below $200 per day in remote villages, have over five children and the parents may not even be aware of the need to control child birth. Campaign on birth control, in our opinion, should be ongoing.

By 2050, it is expected that China, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan, and the USA will exceed 300 million in population. The difference will lie in whether the resources available to each country can effectively take care of its citizens. For now, that is not the case with Nigeria. Take for instance the 2017 budget of N8.612trillion. If the money is shared equally amongst 185 million Nigerians, each person would get a measly 40,000 naira.

We, therefore, are of the view that the concern for the nation’s economy should go beyond the narrative of mere growth. The emphasis should be in ensuring that more resources are efficiently utilised.

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