Minister of Trade and Investment, Olusegun Aganga
Nigeria leads the population boom and retail market potential in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), a global strategy report by Straplan (Research and Planning) has revealed.
The report made available to THISDAY showed that Nigeria accounted for 19 per cent of Africa’s population in 2011 at over 160 million (compared to 51 million in South Africa). It also revealed that Nigeria’s robust trade (retail and wholesale) sector accounted for about 19 per cent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2011.
It noted: “Typical of the SSA region, Nigeria has a youthful population with over 65 million aged 14 and below, representing 40 per cent of its population. Nigeria’s demographic play becomes more promising as its urban dwellers gradually rise beyond 80 million, supporting the gradual emergence of a middle class with significant financial resources an sophisticated demand.
“Conversely, there is high poverty and illiteracy levels (due to infrastructure deficiencies) followed by a large informal sector (retail market) with residual, but strong spending potentials directed towards affordable, customised ‘economy-pack’ products,” it added.
According to the report, the efficiency of the Nigerian retail market would be reinforced by the rise in mobile technology expected to fuel the country’s integration with the global economy and also help to alleviate some of its challenges of doing business.
“The spread of mobile telephony (over 100 million active lines by second quarter of 2012) has also increased internet penetration with about 45 million on-line and 24 million (56 per cent) of them via mobile phones,” it added.
It also pointed out that, beyond its natural resources, SSA’s over 850 million people have become a strong attraction to investors, saying that the continent has also announced its presence as an emerging frontier for retail investments.
It declared: “Africa has a wide informal market, typifying the poor and illiterate which possess a residual but relatively strong spending power for affordable consumer and social goods. Poverty levels are relatively high in Africa but observably they are much more pronounced due to infrastructural constraints which when overcome by large corporate companies yield enduring results.”
Commenting on the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) 2012-2015 that was recently presented to National Assembly, the report insisted that “since Nigeria’s democracy is still inchoate, macroeconomic reforms have progressed albeit due to the absence of an overarching framework that clearly spells out the priorities of the nation and effectively coordinates the affairs of its institutions.
“Therefore, significant structural improvement and socio-economic transformation, especially in infrastructure development, appears far-fetched in the near term until the country has developed and instituted a national development programme,” it added.