10:15 pm
28 May 2017

Nigeria vs South Africa: Four Ways Africa’s Biggest Economies Are Different

Nigeria has overtaken South Africa as the largest economy in Africa after a recent rebasing calculation nearly doubled its gross domestic product.

This means that the Nigerian GDP has been recalculated to better reflect the current levels of output. The result of the rebasing makes Nigeria’s economy about 30% bigger than South Africa’s with Nigerian GDP is at $509 billion with the South African economy at $322 billion. The high jump is due to the inclusion of sectors such as telecoms, ecommerce and the “Nollywood” film industry which did not exist when the calculations were last done in 1990.

While this rebasing gives some interesting insight into the sheer scale of Nigeria’s economy it still has a way to go to reach South Africa’s levels of economic maturity.

This can be seen when you compare the two countries in terms of:

1.Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Economic Activities

While both economies rely heavily on commodity exports they do so to different degrees. Nigeria receives more than 95% of its foreign income from oil exports. In South Africa on the other hand only 65% of total exports are commodities and they are diversified over several different commodities.

South Africa therefore generates much more through manufacturing and the service industries. Although Nigeria does have growth in these areas, mainly due to the large population driving a need for goods and services it is not nearly as mature as South Africa’s.