The United States government is ready to assist Nigeria diversify its economy beyond the oil sector, as reports from International Monetary Fund (IMF) had warned that the impact of lower crude oil prices were adding pressure to the Nigerian economy which is in need of deep structural reforms.
This was made known by the United States Regional Secretary while speaking in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday ahead of President Muhammadu Buhari’s visit to the US.
The U.S. Assistant Secretary for African Affairs, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, told officials gathered at the U.S. Institute of Peace that Nigeria has an “incredible” opportunity for growth if she utilizes its natural resources, including oil and gas, effectively. For inclusive and broad-based expansion, however, she said Nigeria needs to look beyond energy.
“There are areas in which we stand ready to partner with Nigeria to help the government advance important goals, including increasing non-oil revenue.”
Thomas-Greenfield noted Nigeria’s population was projected to reach 400 million by 2050, overtaking the United States and becoming the third most populous country in the world.
“These statistics paint the picture of a country with enormous potential and opportunities ahead of it, yet daunting challenges it must tackle in order to succeed. There is cause for cautious optimism at this juncture, and the United States looks forward to doing everything we can to partner with Nigeria to seize the moment.”
Nigeria is the 8th oil exporter to the United States, behind Kuwait, sending 78,000 barrels per day (bpd) to the country for the week ending March 18. That’s down 251,000 bpd from the previous week, but up substantially from the 14,000 bpd sent during the same week last year. Full-year Nigerian oil production has held steady at around 1.8 million bpd, though energy companies working in the country have had to halt operations at times because of security threats.
Nigeria’s mono-dependent economy has struggled since crude oil prices first dropped below the $100 per barrel mark in 2014. From the pressure of oil prices alone, the government’s deficit doubled to about 3 percent of the gross domestic product last year.
Earlier this month, the Petroleum Minister Emmanuel Kachikwu had announced NNPC would be splited into seven independent companies in an effort to address corruption and revenue losses.