Nigerians to slide into further poverty

Nigeria's GDP shrank for a second consecutive quarter by 3.62 percent and opportunities seem to have gone from bad to worse.

27 November 2020 | Economics

The recession will likely further accentuate the youth's frustrations. Aurelien Mali, Analyst: Moody

Camille Malplat and Louise Dewast

More than 200 million Nigerians will slide further into poverty as the coronavirus pandemic has sent oil prices tumbling and pushed Africa's largest economy into recession.

"It feels like we have been in recession since the beginning of the year," said French teacher Joseph Olaniyan, who works at different private schools in the capital Abuja.

The 30-year-old had no income for six months, between April and September, due to school closures.

The number of poor Nigerians was expected to increase by about two million largely due to population growth, according to the World Bank, but with the pandemic, the number could increase by 7 million.

Nigeria's GDP shrank for a second consecutive quarter by 3.62 percent and opportunities seem to have gone from bad to worse.

With the contraction in GDP, "Nigeria per capita income on an inflation adjusted basis could be around what it was in 1980, four decades ago," Shubham Chaudhuri, the World Bank's Country Director for Nigeria said.

"The recession will likely further accentuate the youth's frustrations," further warned Aurelien Mali, an analyst at Moody's.

In October, several thousand young Nigerians descended to the streets in the biggest show of people power in years.

"It is likely that the population will demonstrate its frustration, in particular young people, over the next few years," said Mali.

The government has attempted to reform its economy and cushion the recent shock caused by the pandemic.

Prices

"The money I was able to make during lockdown was just to keep on going, buy food and pay electricity," said Olaniyan, who was able to start teaching again in October but says "things are still a bit on balance".

In addition to the pandemic, the economy suffered from a fall in global oil prices and diminishing production.

"Just when the government should support the economy and its most vulnerable citizens, its revenues plummeted," said Mali.

While oil prices have gone up slightly, the outlook remains sombre for a country where crude accounts for about 90% of foreign-exchange earnings and half of government revenue.

To limit the impact of the downturn, the country's central bank devalued its currency earlier this year, but this has triggered inflation.

Food prices in Nigeria have increased since the government closed its land borders in 2019, imposing protectionist measures to try and diversify its economy. - Nampa/AFP

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