Nigeria takes pole position

Africa has a new biggest economy: Nigeria. The country’s Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has upgraded its GDP estimate by $163bn to $510bn. That pushes it into pole position, above South Africa. It also means that the country’s ratio of debt-to-GDP has been reduced, potentially making it look more attractive to foreign lenders.

The new figures take account of new sectors of the Nigerian economy that didn’t exist, or were relatively unimportant, prior to 1990 (that’s the date that was previously used as the base for price adjustments). These include the telecoms and information technology industries, and the country’s film industry (known as ‘Nollywood’).

Producing accurate GDP data is tricky at the best of times, and it’s particularly difficult for many emerging countries, due to the rapid growth of various sectors, the presence of a large underground economy and the importance of the unpaid labour of household members.

However, even if these new figures (which were higher than most independent economists had expected) accurately represent the size of Nigeria’s economy, its population remains far from rich. GDP per head is still only around $3,000, compared with South Africa’s GDP per head of more than $11,000.

• Stay up to date with MoneyWeek: Follow us on TwitterFacebook and Google+

MoneyWeek magazine

Latest issue:

Magazine cover
Why you should worry about Greece

...and how to protect your wealth

The UK's best-selling financial magazine. Take a FREE trial today.
Claim 4 FREE Issues

From ADRs to Z scores – all the terms you wish you understood, but were too embarrassed to ask about.

Gervais Williams: if you want real dividend growth, buy small-cap stocks

Merryn Somerset Webb interviews small-cap stock expert Gervais Williams about how penny shares outperform blue chips 'again and again'.


Which investment platform is the right one for you?

When it comes to buying shares and funds, there are several investment platforms and brokers to choose from, with varying fees and charges. Find out which is best for you.


7 July 1753: The British Museum is established by Act of Parliament

On this day in 1753, Parliament passed the British Museum Act, providing for a public lottery to raise £300,000 to build a home for the nation's treasures.


Anatomy of a Grexit: how Greece would go about leaving the euro

Jonathan Loynes and Jennifer McKeown, economists at Capital Economics, look at the key issues and challenges of a Grexit, how it might be best managed, and set out a timetable for change.