By William Ebbs.
With oil prices falling below zero dollars per barrel, it’s only a matter of time before Nigeria’s debt-ridden government goes bankrupt.
Nigeria is slipping toward economic collapse that could include a devalued currency and soaring inflation as oil prices go negative.
Nigeria may have one of the worst governments in the world. Even in good times, the country was in poor shape. But now, with oil prices falling to all-time lows, Nigeria is about to go the way of Venezuela and Zimbabwe with total economic collapse.
There are many proposed explanations for Nigeria’s situation. Some blame corruption, while others blame colonialism. But the real problem has been disastrous government policy. Like Venezuela, Nigeria allowed its central government to exert outsized control over its economy, which led to inefficiency and stagnation. Until recently, Nigeria’s Federal government was responsible for practically all oil refining through its state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). But because its poorly-managed refineries fell into disrepair, the government relied on imports to meet its populations’ demand for fuel.
Where Did Nigeria’s Oil Money Go?
Put simply, Nigeria produces crude oil which it sells to the United States, China, and the European Union, only to re-import gasoline at a higher price, subsidize that gasoline, and sell it to consumers at a massive loss.
According to Bloomberg, Nigeria spent four times as much money subsidizing fuel as it spent building schools, health centers, and science labs in 2019. This has led to mass emigration and widespread poverty in the country. Now, with oil prices at unprecedented lows, the country is about to collapse in a Venezuela-like catastrophe.
Nigeria Has The Highest Break-Even Oil Price In The World
The Next Sovereign Debt Crisis
Drunk on cheap debt from China, domestic lenders, and high-interest rate Eurobonds, Nigeria is on the cusp of a massive sovereign debt crisis.
The country’s total debt stands at an estimated $84 billion, with up to 80% of its bilateral debt owed to China. According to Forbes, debt servicing eats up a full 2/3rds of all government revenue. And China is reluctant to forgive these debts — especially as it attempts to revive its own struggling economy.
Nigeria owes a huge amount of money to China. But China isn’t willing to write off these loans. Data by Bloomberg.