Nigeria is no longer in recession, official figures revealed Thursday, as the economy of Africa’s most populous country grew at the end of 2020.
Hit by the coronavirus pandemic and falling oil prices last year, Nigeria slipped into recession in the third quarter of 2020 for the second time in four years.
Nigeria’s Finance Minister Zainab Ahmed predicted at the time that the country would exit the recession by the first quarter of 2021 — but new statistics show that a timid recovery came earlier.
“Nigeria Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 0.11 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2020, representing the first positive quarterly growth in the last three quarters,” the country’s National Bureau of Statistics said in a statement Thursday.
“Though weak, the positive growth reflects the gradual return of economic activities following the easing of restricted movements” imposed to help contain the coronavirus pandemic, the statement added.
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The World Bank had warned last year that the economic impact of Covid-19 on Nigeria could be significant as the country faced its worst recession in four decades.
Since Nigeria emerged from its previous recession in 2017 the OPEC oil-producing nation’s growth has been sluggish.
“Over the year (2020) as a whole, GDP fell by 1.9 per cent –- its worst performance since at least 1991,” wrote Virag Ferizs, Africa Economist for Capital Economics, a London-based economic research consultancy.
According to the analyst, Nigeria was just about able to offset weakness in the oil sector with a rebound in sectors such as agriculture which makes up more than a quarter of the economy.