HomeBusiness#Three Charts show Nigeria is not Import-dependent. 

#Three Charts show Nigeria is not Import-dependent. 

Nigeria, often labeled as import-dependent, actually imports far less than perceived. Despite having an import to GDP ratio of 11.8 percent, indicating a relatively low dependence on imports, misconceptions persist among many Nigerians and policymakers.


To put it into perspective, Nigeria would need to import nearly twice its current volume to match Egypt’s imports and almost three times more to reach South Africa’s import levels. While Egypt and South Africa import 21.9 percent and 31.5 percent of their GDP, respectively, Nigeria’s import percentage stands at 11.8 percent, according to World Bank data.


Contrary to the notion of being import-dependent, Nigeria’s import figures are notably lower than some of the world’s most import-dependent nations, including Hong Kong, Luxembourg, Malta, Singapore, and Seychelles. These countries boast import to GDP ratios of 189.9 percent, 177.2 percent, 152.5 percent, 150.3 percent, and 121.6 percent, respectively—figures significantly higher than Nigeria’s.


However, these highly import-dependent nations also have robust export figures, indicating a correlation between high imports and exports. For instance, Hong Kong, Luxembourg, Malta, Singapore, and Seychelles exhibit export to GDP ratios of 194 percent, 211 percent, 165 percent, 187 percent, and 111.5 percent, respectively.


It’s crucial to note that Nigeria’s import levels are not exceptional when compared to countries with similar GDP sizes. In a comparison of nine countries with GDP ranging from $400-$450 billion in 2022, Nigeria’s import to GDP ratio is four times lower. These countries, including Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, Denmark, Philippines, South Africa, Iran, Egypt, and Bangladesh, have an average import to GDP ratio of 47.9 percent.


Imports in Nigeria predominantly consist of refined petroleum products, staples, cars, and smartphones. Despite being a major oil producer, Nigeria paradoxically imports refined petroleum products. However, with the recent commencement of operations at the Dangote Refinery, owned by Aliko Dangote, the country aims to reduce its reliance on imports in this sector.


Over the last five years, Nigeria’s imports have surged from N13.17 trillion in 2018 to N22.28 trillion in 2022, overcoming challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The misconception that Nigeria imports excessively has led policymakers to focus on restricting imports rather than boosting exports.


Muda Yusuf, CEO of the Centre for the Promotion of Private Enterprise, emphasized the need to shift focus towards enhancing exports, asserting that policies aimed at curbing imports may be misguided. Bongo Adi, an economics professor at the Lagos Business School, further dispelled the notion of Nigeria being import-dependent, citing its low import to GDP ratio compared to global standards.



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