Nigeria’s economy contracted the most in at least a decade in the second quarter as the crash in oil prices and the global fallout from Covid-19 hit output.

Gross domestic product shrank 6.1% in the three months through June from a year earlier, compared with growth of 1.87% in the previous quarter, the Abuja-based National Bureau of Statistics said on its website on Monday. The median estimate of six economists in a Bloomberg survey was for a 4.05% decline. Quarter on quarter, non-seasonally real GDP decreased by 5.04% after falling 14.27% in the three months through March.

Oil production fell to 1.81 million barrels a day from 2.07 million barrels in the previous three months. That’s the lowest since the first quarter of 2017, which was the last time Africa’s largest economy contracted.

Crude contributes less than 10% to Nigeria’s GDP, but it accounts for about 90% of foreign-exchange earnings and half of government revenue. That means the plunge in oil prices in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, which hit as the economy’s recovery from a 2016 slump was still gaining traction, have emptied coffers.

Still, the drop in output was wider than just crude. The oil sector contracted by 6.6% from a year earlier and the non-oil sector shrank by 6.05%, the first drop in non-oil GDP since the third quarter of 2017.

Nationwide Shutdown

“The decline was largely attributable to significantly lower levels of both domestic and international economic activity during the quarter, which resulted from nationwide shutdown efforts aimed at containing the Covid-19 pandemic,” the statistics office said.

The outlook for the economy remains fragile. The International Monetary Fund sees Nigerian GDP shrinking 5.4% this year, its biggest contraction in nearly 40 years. Goldman Sachs cut its outlook to a contraction of 5% this year from its previous estimate for a drop of 4.2%. The recovery will be slow with the economy growing just 0.8% next year, the bank said.

“The data show that the domestic effects of lockdown measures in response to the Covid-19 pandemic are significant,” Goldman Sachs economists Dylan Smith and Andrew Matheny said in a research note. “We expect Nigeria’s output slump to be more prolonged than regional peers, owing to its higher reliance on crude oil production” and the central bank’s foreign-exchange policy, they said.

What Bloomberg’s Economist Says

“We expect the economy to contract again in 3Q, but at a slower rate than 2Q. The above target oil production in April-June, though, mean steeper production cuts will be required in August and September in order to reach full OPEC compliance. At the same time, a weaker naira and ongoing foreign-exchange restrictions will continue to weigh on growth in the non-oil sector.”

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.

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