By Matthew Page, Council on Foreign Relations
Africa’s largest economy is struggling to find its feet. Sliding oil prices threaten to derail President Muhammadu Buhari’s efforts to put Nigeria’s public finances back in order, fund planned infrastructure spending, and field much-needed social programs. Until global crude prices rebound or he undertakes more ambitious reforms, Mr Buhari almost certainly will need to borrow just to make ends meet.
The good news for Mr Buhari is federal government debt is relatively low as a percentage of GDP, which was estimated at $488bn in 2013. In 2005, Nigeria struck a deal with Paris Club lenders to write off over half of the country’s $30bn debt. Since then, however, Nigeria’s debt profile has steadily grown. As of the end of last year, Abuja owed domestic and international creditors roughly $55bn. Read more
On the African continent, peaceful transitions of power through free and fair elections are a true rarity. Despite the odds, General Muhammadu Buhari delivered an impressive victory over incumbent president Goodluck Jonathan in last month’s presidential election in Nigeria and is set to take office next month.
While Buhari’s coalition party, All Progressives Congress (APC), won a majority of the seats in the National Assembly, last month’s elections are certainly not the final word in Nigeria’s electoral process.
On Saturday, April 11, Nigerians returned to the polls to vote for both State governors and State Houses of Assembly. These were local elections, and the saying that “all politics is local” certainly holds true in Nigeria. During the country’s local elections, the APC once again defied the odds, and gained control of a majority of the country’s governorships. Read more
By Kevin Daly, Aberdeen Asset Management
If you are a young Nigerian, life was already hard enough before the price of oil collapsed and Boko Haram established themselves as a real threat to Africa’s largest oil producer. The country’s now delayed elections are unlikely to improve their lot or that of weary investors.
For years Nigeria’s 170m people have laboured to overcome endemic power shortages, a lack of jobs, crippling corruption and institutions which have persistently failed to serve them. Nigeria’s own statistics agency found that 61 per cent of Nigerians lived on less than a dollar a day in 2010.
Electricity consumption per head of population is around 149 kw-hour (Mexico’s, by comparison, is over 2,000 kw-hours). Former central bank Governor Lamido Sanussi was sacked last year after exposing a multi-billion dollar subsidy racket involving the state oil company. Read more
By Henry S. D’Auria and Christine Phillpotts, AllianceBernstein
Nigeria is Africa’s biggest economy and one of the world’s largest oil and gas producers. Resolving its electricity generation gaps could significantly boost the country’s economic growth and provide opportunities for equity investors.
Most global investors pay insufficient attention to Nigeria, which is not included in traditional emerging market equity indices. Yet in this country of 174m people, a policy-driven change to infrastructure could transform the economy and create new opportunities for equity investors. Read more
Are Nigeria’s pension funds ready to step up to the plate and help finance the country’s development? Policy makers hope they will grow out of their conservative approach of buying government paper and take advantage of recent changes designed to encourage them into new alternative asset classes, including private equity and infrastructure funds.
“Our pension funds are young,” says Olusegun Aganga, trade and industry minister. “We’ve not had them for a very long time so it is natural that there is a conservative way of looking at things.” But having built up a capital base of around $20bn (from $2bn in 2004), they are ready to do more, the minister hopes. Read more
With painful irony, oil-rich Nigeria is unable to supply its own population with electricity. The country ranked 178th of 185 economies on access to electricity for new businesses in the World Bank’s latest “Doing Business” publication.
Infrastructure is, not surprisingly, a key to the country’s future development, as an FT Special Report sets out. Read more
There is little question that Nigeria needs to produce more electricity. Now one state government is trying to take control of its energy crisis with the help of a California-based company.
Califco Group, a private company focused on land and infrastructure development, has joined a public private partnership with Ebonyi state in southeastern Nigeria to construct a 600-megawatt gas fired turbine power plant. Also on tap: a 1.5m tonne cement factory and a 50-megawatt diesel fired plant. Read more