The Other Nigeria

LAGOS – Nigeria has been getting a lot of bad press lately, owing largely to the militant Islamist group Boko Haram’s abduction of more than 200 schoolgirls in April, part of a brutal campaign of kidnappings, bombings, and murder. But, while these developments certainly merit international concern, they should not be allowed to obscure Nigeria’s recent achievements – or spur the outside world to turn its back on the country.

What is lost in most discussions about Nigeria today is the strong economic record that it has established over the last decade. In fact, a recent year-long study of the country by the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) showed that, over the next 15 years, Nigeria has the potential to become a major global economy.

With roughly 170 million inhabitants, Nigeria has Africa’s largest population. But it has only recently been acknowledged as having the continent’s largest economy – 26th in the world – following the release of “rebased” data putting GDP at $510 billion last year.

MGI estimates that, in 2013-2030, Nigeria could expand its economy by more than 6% annually, with its GDP exceeding $1.6 trillion – moving it into the global top 20. Moreover, if Nigeria’s leaders work to ensure that growth is inclusive, an estimated 30 million people could escape poverty.