By: Thomas Hugo
Nigeria’s national statistical agency, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), came into being with the merger of the Federal Office of Statistics and the National Data Bank. The creation was part of the implementation of the Statistical Master Plan, a program document of the Federal Government of Nigeria. Among other things, the merger was implemented to give NBS a national outlook as the apex statistical agency for all the three tiers of government.
Nigeria’s current GDP is about $283 billion, while South Africa’s is close to $380 billion. As we speak, NBS is rebasing Nigeria’s GDP from its 1990 base to a 2008 base. Such adjustment takes into account changes in price and the weight of certain critical sectors of the economy; when completed, the economy of Nigeria is poised to expand by 53 percent and overtake South Africa’s to become the largest in Africa, and the 28th largest in the world. This is quite exciting news for the country.
On June 16, 2011, the Nigeria Statistics Development Program (NSDP), a $10 million grant supplied by the World Bank and administered by the International Development Association was approved. The project was approved to help develop the organizational, institutional and human resources capacities of the nation, especially with regards to attracting and retaining qualified individuals to help turn things around. It also set out to help develop the technological infrastructure needed to collect and store data for the pilot phase of electronic birth and death registrations. Last but not least, it would create and roll-out a statistical template for the compliance of administrative statistics at the state level. Yes, at the state level! This is great news considering the fact that lack of reliable data at the regional level hampers regional economic, research and policy analysis. These systems and policies were put in place to help improve communications with NBS and increase the quality and quantity of statistical data. The project officially came to a close on February 28, 2014.
What does the NSDP project mean for Africa’s largest economy? Among other things, there will be more data and better quality data collected for each of the 36 States of Nigeria. Obviously, this will help governments at all levels make evidence-based decisions, especially with respect to the effect on a regional or local economy of a given shock on any sector. From a business perspective, this will equally allow access to key regional economic indicators so investors have an up-to-date picture of market conditions. This can help attract the much touted foreign direct investment needed to bridge the huge gaps in critical sectors of the economy; e.g. power and infrastructure.
In the final analysis, a robust data collection, processing and retrieval system is strategic to NBS’s vision of generating, on a continuous and sustainable basis, socio-economic statistics on all facets of development in Nigeria. Nigeria has restructured, and by implication, developed a better domestic statistical system. This new and sophisticated platform will help in the economic growth process of the country by assisting planners, investors and other economic agents to make evidence-based decisions that have huge implications on the country’s economic fortunes.