As one of the most developed countries in Africa, Nigeria has clear and strong economic potential.
Independent from Britain for more than half a century, its 177.2 million citizens make it the eighth most populous country in the world, with about one sixth of the continent’s total population.
Nigeria’s economy, underpinned by oil (the country is the world’s 10th largest oil producer), is currently the largest on the continent –larger than South Africa’s. Over the past five years, trends have been positive: overall economic growth for the country has been rapid – 6% to 8% annually – higher than that of the continent as a whole, the fast (4% a year) urbanisation trend, and with it middle-class growth, have been gaining momentum with more than 50% of its population now urban dwellers; and life expectancy, although still low at age 52, is rising.
The country is also among world’s most economically divided. Oil has developed a growing cadre of super-rich – in 2014, approximately 16,000 citizens achieved millionaire status – but poverty continues to be a grinding and growing problem, especially in Nigeria’s northern, majority Muslim region.
The country’s population is currently ranked by the World Bank as the world’s third poorest, with approximately 70% of its citizens living below the National Poverty Line – that is, on less than US$1.25 a day. In addition, in 2014, about 23.9% of working-age Nigerians were unemployed, and about 12.8% had no income at all – up from 10.9% in 2010.