H.E. Mr. Okechukwu Fidelis MUOH, Nigerian Ambassador to Romania:
The Federal Republic of Nigeria became independent on October 1st 1960, after years of British colonial rule. It is a country with a rich history and currently positioned under the leadership of His Excellency, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan to live up to its sobriquet as the “Giant of Africa”.
Nigeria is classified as a mixed economy emerging market and has reached middle income status according to the World Bank, with an abundant supply of natural resources and well-developed financial, legal, communications, transport sectors and stock exchange, the second largest in Africa. The country is ranked 31st in the world in terms of GDP (PPP) as of 2011.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) projected economic growth of 9% in 2008 and 8.3% in 2009.The IMF further projected a 8% growth in the Nigerian economy in 2011.
According to Citigroup, Nigeria will get the highest average GDP growth in the world between the years 2010 and 2050. Nigeria is one of two countries from Africa among 11 Global Growth Generators countries.
Previously, economic development had been hindered by years of military rule. The restoration of democracy and subsequent economic reforms have successfully put Nigeria back on track towards achieving its full economic potential. It is now the largest economy in Africa.
Nigeria is the 12th largest producer of petroleum in the world and the 8th largest exporter, and has the 10th largest proven reserves. Petroleum plays a significant role in the Nigerian economy, accounting for 40% of GDP and 80% of Government earnings.
The country has a highly developed financial services sector, with a mix of local and international banks, asset management companies, brokerage houses, insurance companies, private equity funds and investment banks.
Nigeria also has a wide array of underexploited mineral resources, which include natural gas, coal, bauxite, tantalite, gold, tin, iron ore, limestone, niobium, lead and zinc. Despite huge deposits of these natural resources, the mining industry in Nigeria is still in its infancy.
Agriculture used to be the principal foreign exchange earner of Nigeria. At one time, Nigeria was the world’s largest exporter of groundnuts, cocoa, and palm oil and a significant producer of coconuts, citrus fruits, maize, pearl millet, cassava, yams and sugar cane. About 60% of Nigerians are directly or indirectly in the agricultural sector, and Nigeria has vast areas of underutilized arable land.
Nigeria also has a manufacturing industry, which includes leather, textiles (centered in Kano, Abeokuta, Onitsha, and Lagos), car manufacturing (for the French car manufacturer Peugeot as well as for the English truck manufacturer Bedford, now a subsidiary of General Motors), and Nissan cars (Lagos), plastics and processed food.
The Federal Government has also made tremendous progress in repositioning the country’s aviation sector with the completion of the first phase of airport rehabilitation projects. The N38 billion-worth projects, which involve remodeling of 11 national airports, have reached completion stage, with the second phase set to commence. Some of the airports remodeled in the first phase include the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) Lagos; Nnamdi Azikiwe Intenational Airport, Abuja; Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano, Sam Mbakwe Airport, Owerri; Yola Airport and Benin Airport.
Nigeria also has one of the fastest growing telecommunications markets in the world, major emerging market operators (like MTN, Etisalat, Airtel and Globacom) basing their largest and most profitable centres in the country.