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News > Nigeria

Nigeria: The Crisis of a Gigantic African Economy

  • Nigerian women in a supermarket

    Nigerian women in a supermarket | Photo: Twitter/@BBCAfrica. Jul. 3, 2023.

Published 4 July 2023

From being Africa's largest oil producer, Nigeria has become an importer of this product, which its industry cannot meet domestic demand.

Insecurity, widespread corruption and mounting foreign debt prevent Nigeria from positioning itself as an emerging market in the global economic landscape to this day. There is no forecast that does not include Nigeria as a strong candidate, even in the worst moments that the country has experienced and is experiencing. The large reserves of oil and gas and the solid infrastructure of foreign investment are real potentialities that make it necessary to maintain this candidacy.


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Nigeria's political history over the past 60 years has been marked by militaristic governments and coups. This situation is aggravated by the war that seven years ago pits the government against the terrorist group Boko Haram. During this period, crimes against the civilian population have been committed by both sides. The government limited the right of expression and assembly and implementing a strong social repression. Besides that, the Boko Haram group caused forced displacement of hundreds of rural populations, with serious humanitarian consequences.

From being Africa's largest oil producer, Nigeria has become an importer of this product, which its industry cannot meet domestic demand. These imports have left the country today, according to report of African Institute for Economic Development and Planning (IDEP), a debt of 3000 million dollars with creditors. The Nigerian oil industry has been unable to develop a basic refining infrastructure, so its production of diesel, gasoline and other oil derivatives is very low, today they are no more than net exporters of crude oil.

Another dramatic event in this panorama of the African giant was the unpunished theft of hundreds of barrels of crude oil per day for nearly 10 years by traffickers and corrupt officials. An illegal oil pipeline that ran through the Niger River Delta, more than 4 kilometers of pipes diverted stolen oil to tankers docked on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. Today, although on a smaller scale, the trafficking of illegal crude oil continues.

Will Nigeria be able to validate the widespread forecasts that continue to list it as a potential BRICS emerging market? According to the current socioeconomic and political reality of the country, it seems like a lost illusion only maintained by analysts and technocrats. However, there are facts and actions that come from below, from the popular, civil and workers’ initiatives, that qualify this panorama.

In just over a year, close to 1,000 workers in the oil sector have unionized, many of them have joined the IndustriAll Global Union, seeking to eliminate temporary contracts and precarious work that predominates in the sector. An initiative that seems to be heading towards sustainable growth. It aims to sanctions six-month contracts without labor rights, which today subcontracts the majority of employees in the energy sector.

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