The Nigerian Bureau of Statistics will do a census of businesses, industries and agricultural farmlands next year to help capture the country’s comprehensive gross domestic product.
The Statistician General of the Federation, Yemi Kale, disclosed this in an exclusive interview with PREMIUM TIMES in Abuja.
The exercise would be a follow up to the rebasing of the Nigerian economy conducted in 2014, he said.
The 2014 rebasing exercise put Nigeria’s economy as the largest in Africa with total GDP of over $510 billion, against South Africa’s $384.3 billion. But it did not capture small businesses and industries that constitute about 20 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product.
Last August, Nigeria was reported to have lost its position as Africa’s biggest economy to South Africa, following the recalculation of the country’s GDP.
But, the International Monetary Fund in its World Economic Outlook for October put Nigeria’s GDP at $415.08 billion, from $493.83 billion in 2015, while South Africa’s was put at $280.36 billion, from $314.73 billion in 2015.
Regardless, Mr. Kale who said he expected Nigeria’s GDP to be slightly more than South Africa’s, disclosed that the census of businesses and industries would enable the statistics agency to capture the small businesses.
“I don’t think Nigeria’s GDP is comprehensive enough. We will conduct a formal sector study of small businesses, industries and agricultural farmlands, crops, fisheries and their locations,” he said.
“The census has not been conducted over the last 30 years. It would enable the Bureau capture about 20 per cent of the country’s GDP left out during the 2014 rebasing of the Nigerian economy.
“I think we are still missing some few trillions of Naira here and there. The only way we can capture them is to expand our household survey. Many of these hawkers and small businesses are usually family businesses. The way we capture them is to go to their houses.
“With the census of business and industries, we want to go round the country to map out every business, from ‘mama put’ to printing and every business that has a physical location.
“The objective is to ensure that government knows where every single business is located, such that if government wants to support vulcanizers, it would know where they are.
“We will also conduct agricultural census. We want to go round all farmlands in Nigeria, whether it is for crops or fisheries, to have them properly mapped, with their locations and everything.”
He said there was limited information about what has been produced from every farmland in the country, pointing out that the census would help the Bureau develop a map to show locations where certain crops could grow.
Such information, he explained, would enable government advise those growing certain crops in certain locations know the particular locations that are good to boost yield.
“The census map will help government in the allocation of farm inputs like fertilizer. It would help know easily where fertilizer was required.
“With the census, we will be able to capture these small businesses, which constitute about 10-20 per cent of the country’s GDP, which we could not capture during the rebasing exercise in 2014.”
Mr. Kale lamented the negative impact of poor funding on data collection, production and usage, but said the situation has improved significantly in recent times.
He said his ambition is to build a professionalised statistics agency with the capacity to provide proper data driven analysis of the cost-benefit of every government policies before they were approved.
Besides, Mr. Kale said his dream is to leave behind a world class electronically driven statistics office where at least 80 per cent of Nigeria’s data needs were provided at the touch of a button, with all the MDAs inter-connected electronically to its system.