During a stop in Nigeria Tuesday, British Prime Minster David Cameron praised the continent and Nigeria in particular for its economic growth urging citizens to seize opportunities to bring billions from poverty.
“Tell me this: which part of the world has seen its number of democracies increase nearly eight-fold in just two decades? Eastern Europe? No, it’s Africa,” Cameron said in a speech at the Pan African University in Lagos. “Which continent has six of the ten fastest growing economies in the world? Asia? No, it’s Africa."
“Which country is predicted by some to have the highest average GDP growth in the world over the next 40 years? You might think Brazil, Russia, India or China. No. Think Africa. Think Nigeria,” he added.
His last remark, singling out Nigeria, appears to echo a report last month by U.S.-based bank Morgan Stanley predicting the oil-rich nation’s economy is poised to overtake South Africa’s by 2025 to become the biggest on the continent.
Its gross domestic product is forecasted to grow 8.4 percent this year and 8.5 percent in 2012, according to the bank’s economists.
And with crude oil output slated to grow in the upcoming years, Nigeria’s economy is expected to increase to about $400 billion by 2016, according to the International Monetary Fund.
This economic growth could undoubtedly pique the interest of big foreign investors, many of whom had previously only looked at South Africa as the continent’s business gateway. It’s also not out of the question that international events, such as the World Cup games or even the Olympics could be hosted by Nigeria.
So far, it looks like the nation’s emergence has at least gotten the attention of the top British official.
Cameron, referencing his recent talks with President Goodluck Jonathan, gave a general outline of ways Britain will work with Nigeria in the future.
“We agreed to double trade between our two countries by 2014 to £8 billion [$12.91 billion USD] by 2014,” he said. “I welcome the president’s leadership role to liberalize trade in West Africa. On my part, I agreed we will support this ultimate goal of free trade.”
But similar to South Africa, Nigeria has issues with spreading the wealth to the majority of the nation. According to U.S. government statistics, 70 percent of citizens in the nation are below the poverty line. In South Africa, 50 percent live below the poverty line.
Issues such as terrorist attacks, high maternal mortality and lack of power also work to impede the nation’s progress. For Britain’s part, Cameron did state that in addition to increasing trade with the nation, his government would also assist Nigeria with increased power supply and anti-terrorism intelligence.
(Photo: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)