ICT outstrips oil and gas in Nigeria’s economy – but error in minister’s comparison


Information and communications technology contributes 13.9% to Nigeria’s GDP, and oil and gas contributes 8.8%.

Source: Dr Isa Pantami, minister of communications and digital economy (October 2019)



Explainer: Minister compared a nominal GDP figure with a real GDP figure.

  • Dr Isa Pantami, Nigeria’s communications minister, said ICT made up 13.9% of the country’s gross domestic product, and oil and gas only 8.8%.
  • ICT does contribute more than oil and gas, but Patami quoted ICT’s share in nominal GDP, and the oil and gas sector’s share in real GDP.
  • Experts said it would be better to compare the sectors using real GDP, as it indicated economic growth.

Nigeria’s information and communication technology (ICT) sector contributed more to gross domestic product than the oil and gas sector, Dr Isa Pantami, minister of communications and digital economy, claimed at a recent university convocation.  

Pantami was reported to have said at the 26 October 2019 event that ICT made up 13.9% of Nigeria’s GDP – more than the oil and gas sector’s 8.8% share. 

The minister made a similar comparison in September 2019 at the International Telecommunications Union conference in Hungary. He said the figures indicated that, in two years, ICT’s contribution to Nigeria’s GDP would be double the 8.8% of oil and gas.  

His claim sounds like a win for the long-term plan to diversify Nigeria’s economy. But is it backed up by evidence?

What is GDP?

The size of a country’s economy is measured by its gross domestic product – or GDP. This is the value of all goods and services produced in a given period, usually a year.

It is given as either nominal or real GDP. Nominal GDP includes inflation, the increase in prices of goods and services over time. 

Real GDP, on the other hand, presents economic growth with inflation removed. The International Monetary Fund explains that real GDP figures “allow us to see whether the value of output has gone up because more is being produced or simply because prices have increased”. 

ICT quoted in nominal GDP, oil in real GDP

The National Bureau of Statistics groups the following activities in Nigeria’s ICT sector:

  • telecommunications and information services
  • publishing
  • motion picture, sound recording and music production
  • broadcasting

Africa Check contacted Pantami to ask if he was quoted accurately but we are yet to get a response. 

Next we turned to Nigeria’s bureau of statistics, which publishes GDP figures every three months. The most recent release covers the second quarter of 2019.

The data shows that the oil sector contributed 8.8% to Nigeria’s real GDP in the second quarter. The ICT sector’s contribution to real GDP was 14.6%. 

In nominal terms – which include inflation – ICT contributed 13.9% to GDP, while oil and gas contributed 8.6%

Contributions to Nigerian GDP in the second quarter of 2019
Sector  Real Nominal
Information and communication technology 14.6% 13.9%
Oil and gas  8.8% 8.6%

Source: National Bureau of Statistics

Minister’s comparison flawed

Pantami was correct to say that ICT contributed more to Nigeria’s GDP than oil and gas. But he compared the ICT sector’s contribution to nominal GDP with the oil and gas sector’s contribution to real GDP.

Contributions to GDP shouldn’t be compared that way, Baba Madu, head of the national accounts division at the National Bureau of Statistics, told Africa Check. 

“Both the oil and ICT sectors must be expressed in either real or nominal terms for the sake of comparison of the GDP contributions,” Madu said. 

He added that “real GDP is a better measure of the economy” as it more accurately reflected growth.

‘More productive activities in ICT than in oil’

Oil and gas contributed a lot more to government revenue than ICT, but GDP was a different ball game, Prof Chike Agu, who teaches economics at the University of Nigeria Nsukka, told Africa Check. 

“GDP has to do with the total national output from all sectors,” Agu said. 

“The fact that the ICT sector is now contributing more to the GDP than oil shows that there are more productive activities in the ICT sector compared to what is happening in the oil sector.”

Conclusion: Minister’s numbers close but his comparison flawed

Isa Pantami, Nigeria’s communications minister, claimed that the country’s information and communication technology sector contributed 13.9% to the country’s GDP, while the oil and gas sector contributed just 8.8%. 

His figures are from the National Bureau of Statistics, but he compared a real GDP figure with a nominal GDP figure. 

Experts recommend comparing only real GDP figures. These show that the ICT sector contributed 14.6%, while oil and gas contributed 8.8%. 

We rate the claim as mostly correct, as it is not entirely accurate and requires clarification.

© Copyright Africa Check 2020. Read our republishing guidelines. You may reproduce this piece or content from it for the purpose of reporting and/or discussing news and current events. This is subject to: Crediting Africa Check in the byline, keeping all hyperlinks to the sources used and adding this sentence at the end of your publication: “This report was written by Africa Check, a non-partisan fact-checking organisation. View the original piece on their website", with a link back to this page.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Africa Check encourages frank, open, inclusive discussion of the topics raised on the website. To ensure the discussion meets these aims we have established some simple House Rules for contributions. Any contributions that violate the rules may be removed by the moderator.

Contributions must:

  • Relate to the topic of the report or post
  • Be written mainly in English

Contributions may not:

  • Contain defamatory, obscene, abusive, threatening or harassing language or material;
  • Encourage or constitute conduct which is unlawful;
  • Contain material in respect of which another party holds the rights, where such rights have not be cleared by you;
  • Contain personal information about you or others that might put anyone at risk;
  • Contain unsuitable URLs;
  • Constitute junk mail or unauthorised advertising;
  • Be submitted repeatedly as comments on the same report or post;

By making any contribution you agree that, in addition to these House Rules, you shall be bound by Africa Check's Terms and Conditions of use which can be accessed on the website.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.