Nigeria’s Economic Reforms: Progress and Challenges

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Philip Osafo-Kwaako
Philip Osafo-Kwaako Visiting Fellow - Africa Center for Economic Transformation

March 23, 2007

Following years of economic stagnation, Nigeria embarked on a comprehensive reform program during the second term of the Obasanjo administration. The program was based on the National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS) and focused on four main areas: improving the macroeconomic environment, pursuing structural reforms, strengthening public expenditure management, and implementing institutional and governance reforms.

This paper reviews Nigeria’s recent experience with economic reforms and outlines major policy measures that have been implemented. Although there have been notable achievements under the program, significant challenges exist, particularly in translating the benefits of reforms into welfare improvements for citizens, in improving the domestic business environment, and in extending reform policies to states and local governments. Consequently, we argue that the recent reform program must be viewed as the initial steps of a much longer journey of economic recovery and sustained growth. This paper concludes by outlining a number of outstanding issues that future Nigerian administrations must address.