Officials who spent their days under a mango tree falsifying forms. Villagers who were reachable only by canoe or whose first inclination was to attack the census takers. Such suspicion of government that businesses refused to provide data. More than 200 languages, 160m people, 36 states and 774 local government areas.
These were among the challenges that greeted Yemi Kale when he was appointed Nigeria’s statistician-general two years ago – and some of the reasons why his quest to provide more accurate gross domestic product figures for Africa’s second-largest economy are taking so long.
The National Bureau of Statisticshas been working since early 2012 to gather enough data to rebase Nigeria’s GDP, which is at present measured against output and consumption patterns from 1990, when booming sectors like mobile telecommunications and the “Nollywood” film industry did not exist. Most developed countries change their calculations every five years.Analysts expect that Nigeria’s economy, which the NBS put at $258bn in 2012, will see a significant upward revision after rebasing, as happened in Ghana in 2010, when GDP grew by 60 per cent following a similar exercise. Renaissance Capital said in a report this month it expected a 40 per cent increase Nigeria’s economy, which would measure it at $361bn, using current figures, close to that of South Africa’s, which is estimated at $385bn.