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Monday, 3 December, 2001, 12:53 GMT
Nigeria 'fuelled' by black economy
Nigerian market scene
The black economy accounts for a large part of the Nigerian economy
Nigeria's economy is estimated to be worth about $42bn, making it one of the largest in Africa.

But this figure doesn't include much of the country's economic activity which takes place in the informal economy or the black market.

The informal economy is where most Nigerians make their living, as street hawkers, minibus drivers, money changers or market traders.

The Nigerian government - which has seen its export dollars hit by the falling price of oil - is thought to see many more tax dollars slip through the net in the unregulated black economy.

These untaxed and unregulated revenues - by some estimates - account for between 40% and 45% of gross domestic product (GDP).

Job lifeline

Fewer than half of Nigeria's young population have 'proper' jobs and many of these earn their living within the black economy.

Nigeria street scene
Many Nigerians make their living from the black economy

" Most of the employment in this country does come from the informal sector," a Nigerian-based analyst told the BBC's World Business Report. "Most of what keeps people going comes from work that they do in the informal sector."

Apart from providing people with work, the black economy is usually the only place people can buy goods they need.

A Lagos-based banker told the BBC's World Business Report: "The customers are the everyday person in Nigeria. Supermarkets, shopping malls are really not that widespread, so most people shop in the markets."

"The informal economy really is the backbone of the Nigerian economy. It is the backbone because most services that Nigerians require to keep things running come from the informal sector," the Nigerian-based analyst added.

The BBC's James Whittington
"The informal economy is where most Nigerians make a living"
See also:

07 Nov 01 | Business
Oil price fall hits Nigeria
24 Sep 01 | Business
Nigeria seeks foreign investment
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