26 November 2013, Abuja – The Minister of Finance and Co-ordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, has said that Nigeria has made significant progress in its shift away from oil and enhancing the development of the non-oil sector.
Okonjo Iweala in an interview with the CNBC, monitored by Vanguard, also said that Nigeria must work faster to reduce its dependence on oil for greater economic growth.
“Nigeria is one of the fastest growing countries in the world, we just saw third quarter GDP growth of 6.8 percent and we expect to end the year at 6.75 percent – and the IMF is forecasting higher growth rate, but we think we need to grow faster,” Okonjo-Iweala told CNBC last week.
“We are making progress [moving away from oil] but we want to do it faster,” she added. “At one point 90 percent of our revenues came from oil so we’re making progress.”
Nigeria’s oil reserves, production and exports generate around 70 percent of the government’s revenues, but Okonjo-Iweala said the country had many untapped growth opportunities it needed to explore in order to maintain a high growth rate.Agriculture, which accounts for 40 percent of Nigeria’s economic output, and the housing and manufacturing sectors were “still largely untapped” sources of growth, she said.
“We have a demand for 70 million [housing] units that are unfilled so there’s certainly a possibility there and of course that creates jobs for carpenters and plumbers and all the linked sectors,” she said.
She noted that manufacturing could thrive given Nigeria’s “huge domestic market” and population of 170 million. The minister further said that the government was aware of the need to create more jobs for young people and wanted to make the labor market “inclusive.”
She added that the government was implementing reforms to the energy and agricultural sectors, which would help Nigeria, maintain its high growth rate.
“I think with that progress you will see improvement in the power sector and that will allow small and medium-sized enterprises and households to benefit and the economy to move much better,” added.