Magazine article New African

A Prediction Too Far? the New Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi (Right), Says Nigeria's Economy Will Outstrip South Africa's by 2012. but His Own Countrymen Do Not Believe Him. Tom Mbakwe Reports

Magazine article New African

A Prediction Too Far? the New Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi (Right), Says Nigeria's Economy Will Outstrip South Africa's by 2012. but His Own Countrymen Do Not Believe Him. Tom Mbakwe Reports

Article excerpt

SO FAR SANUSI LAMIDO SANUSI HAS PROVEN HIMSELF TO be a brave man indeed. Soon after being appointed as the new governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, he sacked almost a dozen CEOs of commercial banks for dereliction of duty. The storm over the sackings has not even settled, but Sanusi has taken on an even more difficult assignment: doing battle with South Africa's economy, after predicting that in two years' time, Nigeria's economy will outgrow South Africa's, the continent's current largest economy.

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Speaking in late October at the policy dialogue of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group, Sanusi shocked the audience by boldly projecting that by 2012 Nigeria's economy would be bigger than South Africa's, thereby becoming the largest economy in Africa. His projections, he said, were based on the GDP growth of the two countries.

You might imagine the whoops of disbelief from the audience! Reaction was so strong that the governor was genuinely taken aback. "I am the CBN governor, people should believe me and show some respect," Sanusi countered, still reeling from the sheer force of the audience's response.

His situation was not helped as minutes later he was describing the collapse of Nigeria's manufacturing sector as "unfortunate". He said while the central bank "remained disposed to a shift in lending to the manufacturing sector", it would "not support policies that will compel commercial banks to be exposed to the challenges facing the manufacturing sector".

According to Sanusi, Nigeria's manufacturing sector faces a serious challenge because of poor electricity supply, and the absence of a clear policy that discourages the dumping of foreign goods in the country. He said the textile sector was the most challenged of all industries, and it was that sector's near collapse that exposed the commercial banks to huge non-performing loans.

The internet chat rooms started humming as soon as Sanusi's prediction hit the newsboards. "A country that is not able to provide two hours of uninterrupted electricity supply is spoiling to do economic battle with a more stable economy in South Africa," said Bolaji Okesuna, a contributor to the Vanguard newspaper's website. …

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