As we celebrate Democracy Day in a pre-election year, we decided to look at four charts that hone in on some of the significant transformations the Nigerian economy has experienced over the years to give us a sense of the economy the next administration would be inheriting.


Key takeaways:

  • Taking stock of Nigeria’s performance, we see that Nigeria’s current debt level has not only gone back to the 2004 levels (when we required debt forgiveness), but it has been rising rapidly too. 

  • Despite all the reforms in the electricity sector, Nigeria still suffers from an energy crisis, with grid shutdowns being the order of the day. Poor policy implementation has led to less than ideal solutions. 

  • However, some aspects of the economy are recording tremendous success, such as the pension and telecommunications sector. Both driven by market-led reforms, they have been able to withstand significant economic shocks and generate income for the government.


Since the early 2000s, we have experienced oil shocks, multiple FX crises, the rise of the digital economy, and a global pandemic. The year 1999 was quite significant for the Nigerian economy as it saw an intentional approach from the government towards market-led development. Unsurprisingly, we have witnessed key developments in sectors such as the pensions industry, telecommunications, and even attempts to deliver better and stable electricity to Nigerians. At the same time though, external government borrowing has gone through various phases. 

1. Nigeria's rising debt stock