Nigeria Is Set To Stay The World’s Poverty Capital For At Least A Generation

Nigeria is making little progress in eliminating poverty.

New reports by global development institutions show that human capital spending in Nigeria—the poverty capital of the world after recently overtaking India—is among the worst in the world.

In the second ever Commitment to Reducing Inequality (CRI) index compiled by Development Finance International (DFI) and Oxfam, Nigeria placed bottom in a ranking of 157 nations. The CRI Index ranks the commitment of national governments to reducing the gap betweenrich and poor citizens by measuring three factors considered “critical” to reducing the gap: social spending, tax policies and labor rights. Nigeria ranked bottom of the index for the second consecutive year.

The report says Nigeria’ social spending (mainly on health, education and social protection) is “shamefully low.” And those meager levels are reflected in reality as Nigeria is home to the highest number of out-of-school children. Nigeria also scores poorly on labour rights (133 out of 157) but recent progressive tax policies—such as a tax amnesty scheme—were noted and expected to reflect in the next index.

Bangladesh 148
Singapore 149
Lao PDR 150
Madagascar 151
Bhutan 152
Sierra Leone 153
Chad 154
Haiti 155
Uzbeskistan 156
Nigeria 157

While the CRI index measures current realities, the World Bank’s first ever Human Capital Index (HCI) predicts future expectations but it is just as grim: ranks Nigeria 152nd out of the 157 countries.

Related: Poorest countries in the world (provided by 24/7 Wall St.)

a sign on the side of a building: The global economy is increasingly complicated and competitive. Countries are compelled to use whatever tools they have at their disposal to promote growth, attract business, and protect their economic interests. The international playing field is not level, however, and a number of unique disadvantages have made wealth creation and economic development nearly impossible in some parts of the world.The poorest countries in the world, regardless of continent or hemisphere, often share some common traits. In several cases, they were under European colonial control and only gained independence some time in the last century. Many of the poorest countries have also recently been devastated by civil war or natural disasters. Poor populations are also often hamstrung by political corruption and instability, as well as inadequate infrastructure and public services.Lacking the stability, and resources necessary to develop well-rounded, valuable economies of innovation, the poorest countries in the world tend to be heavily dependent on agriculture -- both for subsistence and international trade. Further, the lack of economic activity in many of these countries has significant implications for public health and life expectancy.24/7 Wall St. reviewed World Bank data on gross national income per capita based on purchasing power parity, or GNI per capita PPP, by country to identify the poorest countries in the world. This measure is commonly used to approximate average annual income. For reference, GNI per capita PPP in the United States is $54,151. In every country on this list, GNI per capita is below $3,000.

The index measures “the amount of human capital that a child born today can expect to attain by age 18.” That prediction is based on five indicators: chances of a child reaching age five, healthy growth, expected years of schooling, quality of learning available and the adult survival rate.

Nigeria’s HCI value of 0.34 (countries are scored between zero and one) is lower than the global average (pdf) of 0.57. It’s also lower than the regional average and the average for nations in Nigeria’s income bracket. As such, the report predicts that “a child born in Nigeria today will be 34% as productive when she grows up as she could be if she enjoyed complete education and full health.”

Chad 0.29
South Sudan 0.3
Mali 0.32
Niger 0.32
Liberia 0.32
Nigeria 0.34
Sierra Leone 0.35
Mauritania 0.35
Sierra Leone 0.35
Angola 0.36

Reducing inequality and developing human capital is crucial to any efforts to eliminate poverty in Nigeria but data shows it is an area where successive governments have been lagging: the number of Nigerians living in extreme poverty increased by 35 millionbetween 1990 and 2013 alone.

For its part, Nigeria’s government under president Buhari has launched social intervention programs, including cash transfers to its poorest people, in a bid to reverse its extreme poverty problem. Nigeria’s efforts at reducing poverty will have to yield immediate and long-term results given it’s ballooning population: the country is set to become the world’s third largest by 2050.

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Nigeria’s petro-economy, which has typically been buoyed by rising oil prices has remained in the doldrums even after exiting a five-quarter recession last year. But the longer-term dire outlook of both reports reflect the poor planning and mismanagement by successive governments over many years.