A few years ago I saw an advertisement for a bank at Lagos’s airport proclaiming, if I recall correctly, that Nigeria is “the happiest place on earth”.
This might just be true, if a recent poll by GlobeScan for the BBC World Service is to be believed. The survey, in which over 25,000 consumers across 25 countries were interviewed, was conducted between July and September this year. Respondents were asked to say whether they expect good or bad economic times in the next 12 months, and also over the next five years.
The poll found that Nigerians are the most optimistic nation among those surveyed, with 72% saying they expect “good” or “mostly good” economic conditions in the year ahead. Looking at the next five years, 73% of Nigerians expect a “continuous” or “mostly good” business environment.
Interviews were conducted with 755 Nigerians living across the country.
Although Nigeria has an abundance of natural resources, it is estimated that over half of the population lives below the poverty line. Much hope is resting on president Goodluck Jonathan’s economic team to transform the economy. Jonathan has appointed former managing director of the World Bank Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as finance minister, as well as Akin Adesina, previous vice-president of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), as his agriculture chief. Over the past few years Central Bank of Nigeria governor Lamido Sanusi has also established a reputation as a no-nonsense operator.
Overall, 59% of African respondents are upbeat about the future. Only 14% expressed a negative sentiment. In addition to Nigeria, other African countries included in the poll are Egypt, Kenya and Ghana.
The poll found that Japanese, British, and French consumers are among the most pessimistic in the world. In Japan, only 5% expect “good” or “mostly good” times, while 60% expect “bad” or “mostly bad” times over the next year. There are similar levels of economic pessimism in the UK and France.
“The poll suggests citizens in many industrialised economies – most notably the UK and US – see their immediate and longer-term economic prospects as bleak, and the continuing eurozone crisis will only be making matters worse. It also reveals continuing strong consumer confidence in emerging giants such as Brazil, India, and China,” GlobeScan chairman Doug Miller commented.