Nigeria will rebase its GDP on Sunday, the statistics office said, in a move that will boost its estimated size by anything from around 40 to 70 percent and is almost certain to push it ahead of South Africa to become Africa’s biggest economy.

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) will change the base year for calculating Nigeria’s GDP to 2010 from 1990 to reflect changes in the economy of Africa’s most populous nation, and more accurately assess the size of its current output.

Most governments overhaul GDP calculations every few years to reflect changes in output and consumption, but Nigeria has not done so since 1990, meaning sectors such as the Internet, telephones and even the “Nollywood” film industry have had to be newly factored in to give a truer picture, sources say.

When Ghana rebased in 2010, output jumped 60 percent. For Nigeria being the continent’s number one economy could prove an irresistible magnet for investors.

Nigeria’s GDP only needs to go up by a quarter from a current IMF 2013 estimate of $292 billion to hit $365 billion, which would enable it to overtake South Africa, currently estimated by the fund at $353 billion.

“The impact of a rebasing would likely have a positive impact on perceptions … this would come at time when most investors are fairly downbeat on South Africa,” because of its high combined fiscal and current account deficit, London-based economist for CSL Stockbrokers, Alan Cameron, said.


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