The author would like to acknowledge gratefully the helpful suggestions of Gareth Austin, Patrick Wallis, Paul Collier, Jan-Georg Deutsch, Dmitriy Skugarevskiy, the participants of economic history seminars at the University of Oxford (2010) and the University of Utrecht (2011), and of the African Economic History Workshop at the Graduate Institute in Geneva (2012).
What explains slow sub-Saharan African growth? Revisiting oil boom-era investment and productivity in Nigeria's national accounts, 1976–85†
Article first published online: 25 FEB 2014
© Economic History Society 2014
The Economic History Review
How to Cite
Marwah, H. (2014), What explains slow sub-Saharan African growth? Revisiting oil boom-era investment and productivity in Nigeria's national accounts, 1976–85. The Economic History Review. doi: 10.1111/1468-0289.12040
- Article first published online: 25 FEB 2014
- Manuscript Accepted: 23 JUN 2013
- Manuscript Revised: 28 APR 2013
- Manuscript Received: 1 NOV 2012
Scholars have struggled to understand the role of investment in the slow growth of post-Independence sub-Saharan Africa. Existing research has largely relied on national accounting data, which suggests low returns on investment in the region. This article uses data gathered during fieldwork to investigate the quality of the investment data in the national accounts of Nigeria, Africa's most populous economy. It proposes a new investment series which can be compared to those in Nigeria's national accounts for 1976–85. It provides an alternative view of investment and productivity during the country's crucial oil boom period, when Nigeria had significant funding available for investment but this investment did not result in long-term economic growth. Data are drawn from construction surveys, publicly listed and privately held construction company financial records, and industry publications. The new series suggests that for many years of the oil boom, approximately two-thirds of what was recorded as having been investment in Nigeria's national accounts was not investment at all. Much of this was ‘ghost construction’, projects paid for but never completed. This indicates that actual investment was far more productive than has previously been appreciated.