Following its 2012 rebasing of the country’s GDP, Statistics Botswana (SB) says that the next such exercise will be come after it completes statistical projects that it is currently undertaking.
“These include the 2015 Agricultural Census, the Multi-topic Household Survey which collects data on poverty and the labour market, the Economic Census and the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rebasing, all of which are planned to be completed by the end of 2017. Rebasing of the GDP will follow the release of the results from these surveys,” says Lillian Setimela, adding that while some of the information required for rebasing will come from other government departments and agencies, the other will come from on-going and scheduled surveys, censuses and projects.
Setimela, who is SB’s Manager for Communication, Documentation and Dissemination, describes rebasing GDP as “a meticulous exercise that requires the incorporation of newly available data from various sources.” GDP rebasing is a statistical procedure undertaken by the national statistical office to ensure that national accounts statistics present the most accurate reflection of the economy. To the question of how often SB carries out this exercise, her response is that it is internationally recommended that rebasing be done every five years.
Indeed that is what the President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Donald Kaberuka, attests to in the bank’s latest annual report. The latter asserts that periodic conduct of this exercise would both keep GDP figures of African countries as accurate as possible as well as heighten the continent’s economic profile.
Says the AfDB report: “However, few countries in Africa have done this regularly, hence the large differences between current and rebased GDP figures seen in a number of African countries. Kenya’s GDP rebasing exercise in 2014 expanded its economy by 25 percent to USD 55 billion, while that of Nigeria doubled its GDP to USD 549 billion, making it Africa’s largest economy. A number of other African countries also plan to rebase their economies. A net result is likely to be a significant change in the size and structure of the continent’s economy. Africa’s share of global GDP is likely to increase.”
SB rebased Botswana’s GDP in 2012 which, as finance minister Kenneth Matambo told parliament in his 2013 budget speech, “resulted in revision of the Gross Domestic Product estimates from 2000 to 2011 which consequently changed the size of the GDP, its growth rates, sectoral contributions, and all related indicators.”
When Nigeria rebased its GDP last year, it included for the first time, its film and mobile and telecommunications industries which were not included in a previous rebasing exercise. Its film industry, Nollywood, is now the second largest in the world in terms of output after its American equivalent – Hollywood. Asked what economic activities that were previously unaccounted for in previous rebasing exercises would be taken into account in the next exercise, Setimela responded: “New economic activities are included in the computation of GDP estimates as and when the new activities enter the market. Revisions to GDP estimates are done as and when more data becomes available without waiting for rebasing.”
Nigeria’s GDP rebasing was one of the biggest economic news to come out of Africa last year. Although the country bypassed South Africa as the biggest economy in Africa, the latter is still far ahead because its per capita income (the most important measure of an economy) is almost three times higher than Nigeria’s. South Africa’s GDP per capita is US$7,508 while Nigeria’s is $2,688.