The country’s economy is contracting for two consecutive quarters amid a contraction in its oil sector.
Nigeria entered a recession after its gross domestic product contracted for the second quarter in a row, official data showed.
Africa’s largest economy is in recession for the first time since 2016. The recession of four years ago was the first in a generation, and the country emerged from it the following year.
However, growth has been fragile and COVID-19 has hit the economy hard, amid low oil prices.
The continent’s largest oil producer and exporter relies on crude sales for 90 percent of foreign exchange earnings.
Nigeria normally represents an average production of two million barrels per day. But the effects of the pandemic and low oil prices have reduced production to around 1.4 million barrels.
“Real GDP in the third quarter of 2020 contracted for the second consecutive quarter by -3.62%,” Yemi Kale, the statistician general, said on Twitter on Saturday.
“The cumulative GDP for the first nine months of 2020 therefore stood at -2.48%,” he added.
The oil sector is hit hard
The oil sector contracted 13.89% in the third quarter compared to growth of 6.49% in the same period a year earlier, according to data cited by Kale, while the non-oil sectors fell by 2, 51% in the three months before September.
Following Nigeria’s first confirmed case of COVID-19 at the end of February, lockdowns were imposed from late March to early May in major cities – the economic hub of Lagos and the capital, Abuja.
Locks have also been imposed in some of the country’s other states and a ban has been imposed on interstate travel.
“The performance of the economy in the third quarter of 2020 reflected the residual effects of restrictions on movement and economic activity implemented across the country at the start of the second quarter in response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said the statistics office in a report released on Saturday.
“With the lifting of these restrictions, the reopening of businesses and the resumption of international travel and trade activities, some economic activities have returned to positive growth,” he said.
The government had previously said it expected the economy to contract to 8.9% this year in the worst-case scenario without a stimulus.
The International Monetary Fund has forecast a 5.4% decline in Nigeria’s GDP this year.