On March 27, 2019, the Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) concluded the Article IV consultation1 with Nigeria.
Nigeria’s economy is recovering. Real GDP increased by 1.9 percent in 2018, up from 0.8 percent in 2017, on the back of improvements in manufacturing and services, supported by spillovers from higher oil prices, ongoing convergence in exchange rates and strides to improve the business environment. Headline inflation fell to 11.4 percent at end-2018, reflecting declining food price inflation, weak consumer demand, a relatively stable exchange rate and tight monetary policy during most of 2018, but remains outside of the central bank’s target range of 6–9 percent. Record holdings of mostly short-term local debt and equity and a current account surplus lifted gross international reserves to a peak in April 2018, while the three-times oversubscribed November 2018 Eurobond helped cushion the impact of outflows later in the year.
However, persisting structural and policy challenges continue to constrain growth to levels below those needed to reduce vulnerabilities, lessen poverty and improve weak human development outcomes, such as in health and education. A large infrastructure gap, low revenue mobilization, governance and institutional weaknesses, continued foreign exchange restrictions, and banking sector vulnerabilities are dampening long-term foreign and domestic investment and keeping the economy reliant on volatile oil prices and production.
Under current policies, the outlook remains therefore muted. Over the medium term, absent strong reforms, growth would hover around 2½ percent, implying no per capita growth as the economy faces limited increases in oil production and insufficient adjustment four years after the oil price shock. Monetary policy focused on exchange rate stability would help contain inflation but worsen competitiveness if greater flexibility is not accommodated when needed. High financing costs, on the back of little fiscal adjustment, would continue to constrain private sector credit, and the interest-to-revenue ratio would remain high.
Risks are moderately tilted downwards. On the upside, oil prices could rise, prompted by global political disruptions or supply bottlenecks. Bold reform efforts, following the election cycle, could boost confidence and investments, especially given relatively conservative baseline projections. On the downside, additional delays in reform implementation, a persistent fall in oil prices, reduced oil production, increased security tensions, or tighter global financial market conditions could undermine growth, provoke a market sell-off, and put additional pressure on reserves and/or the exchange rate.
Under Article IV of the IMF’s Articles of Agreement, the IMF holds bilateral discussions with members, usually every year. A staff team visits the country, collects economic and financial information, and discusses with officials the country’s economic developments and policies. On return to headquarters, the staff prepares a report, which forms the basis for discussion by the Executive Board.
At the conclusion of the discussion, the Managing Director, as Chairman of the Board, summarizes the views of Executive Directors, and this summary is transmitted to the country’s authorities. An explanation of any qualifiers used in summings up can be found here: http://0-www-imf-org.library.svsu.edu/external/np/sec/misc/qualifiers.htm.