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Nigeria’s Debt Rises 21 Percent to $25.8 Billion, or 13.8 Percent of GDP | African News – Nigeria News – African Politics

Nigeria’s total public debt rose 21 percent last year to $25.8 billion, or 13.8 percent of gross domestic product, the Debt Management Office said.

External debt increased 6.2 percent to $3.95 billion, the Abuja-based office said in an annual report published on its website today. Domestic debt increased to $21.8 billion from $17.7 billion a year earlier.

After securing a debt write-off pact with the Paris Club of 19 creditor nations in 2006, Nigeria has focused its international efforts on concessional loans from institutions such as the World Bank and the African Development Bank, the debt office said in the report. Nigeria has repaid $12 billion to creditors and had another $18 billion written off to cut the debt from $35 billion.

Last year, 85 percent of its public borrowing was from the domestic market, while 15 percent came from abroad, according to the report. The local component climbed from 83 percent in the previous year, according to DMO.

The West African country sold 694 billion naira ($4.6 billion) in bonds last year, encouraged by the “increasing appetite of its burgeoning investors,” the report said, without saying how much was sold the year before.

The objective of the debt management strategy is to “maintain the sustainability of the total debt profile,” Abraham Nwankwo, director general of the DMO, said in the report.

Oil and gas account for 90 percent of the country’s export earnings and 16 percent of GDP, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. Nigeria’s economy, the second-biggest on the continent after South Africa, is expected to grow 7.8 percent in 2010, up from 7 percent last year, driven by non-oil industries such as agriculture, Central Bank of Nigeria’s governor,Lamido Sanusi, said on Sept. 21. The country is the fifth-largest source of U.S. crude imports.

To contact the reporter on this story: Paul Okolo in Abuja at pokolo@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Hirschberg at phirschberg@bloomberg.net.

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