Nigeria’s economic growth accelerated in the third quarter as oil output rose to the highest since the start of last year.
The gross domestic product of Africa’s largest crude producer expanded 1.4 percent in the three months through September from a year earlier, compared with a revised 0.7 percent in the second quarter, the Abuja-based National Bureau of Statistics said Monday, November,20, in an emailed report. The median of 13 economists’ estimates in a Bloomberg survey was for 1.5 percent growth.
The economy contracted 1.6 percent in 2016, the worst annual slump in 25 years. The International Monetary Fundforecasts GDP growth of 0.8 percent this year and 1.9 percent in 2018 as output of oil, Nigeria’s biggest export, increases and as more foreign currency becomes available for factory imports.
Oil production in the volatile Niger River delta region, where armed militants have attacked pipelines in the past, rose to 2.03 million barrels a day in the third quarter from a revised 1.87 barrels a day, the statistics office said. The crude sector contributed 10 percent to real GDP, according to the NBS. The non-oil sector contracted 0.8 percent in the period compared with growth of 0.5 percent in the second quarter.
“It’s not surprising that the economy expanded further given relative stability in the Niger delta, which helped boost oil production,” Gaimin Nonyane, London-based economic-research head at Ecobank Transnational Inc., said by email. But the recovery “remains fragile” with pressure points in the economy including high inflation, she said.
The faster economic growth may allow the Central Bank of Nigeria to continue its tight monetary policy to fight inflation that, at 15.9 percent in October, has been above the upper end of the 6 percent to 9 percent target range for more than two years.
“The unexpected contraction in non-oil GDP is a big concern,” Razia Khan, head of macroeconomic research at Standard Chartered Bank Plc in London, said by email. “It likely creates more pressure for a more accommodative monetary policy stance from the CBN — but no change in November is still our base case for now.”
The monetary policy committee is scheduled to announce its final rate decision for the year on Tuesday, November, 21, having kept the benchmark rate at a record high of 14 percent since July 2016. Expansion of farming was little changed at 3.1 percent compared with the previous quarter. Manufacturing contracted by 2.9 percent after growth of 0.6 percent in the second quarter, according to the report.