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Official data show Argentina’s inflation rates are significantly worse than Nigeria’s

Nigeria’s inflation rate rose for the 14th straight month, in February reaching the highest point since 1996. According to a social media post, the country’s current inflation rate is worse than that of Argentina. But the claim is misleading; the post wrongly compared annual to monthly inflation figures. Argentina’s inflation rates are significantly worse than Nigeria’s.

“Nigeria and Argentina voted new presidents at the same time last year. Argentina's monthly inflation rate: December: 25.5% January 2024: 20.6% February 2024: 13.2% Nigeria's monthly inflation rate: December: 28.92% January 2024: 29.90% February 2024: 35.41%,” reads a post published on X on March 14, 2024.

<span>A screenshot of the misleading post, taken on March 17, 2024</span>
A screenshot of the misleading post, taken on March 17, 2024

Reposted more than 2,100 times, the post implied that Argentina was doing better with inflation than Nigeria despite the two countries electing new leaders in 2023.

Javier Milei was sworn in (archived here) as Argentina's president on December 10, 2023, more than six months after Bola Tinubu became Nigeria's leader on May 29, 2023 (archived here) following a hotly contested election.

On the first day in office, Tinubu ended currency controls and removed the fuel subsidy that had kept prices of petrol artificially low for years.

The result in Nigeria has been a tripling of petrol prices and a spike in living costs as the naira continues to slide against the US dollar (archived here).

Milei, meanwhile, instituted a series of belt-tightening measures, including slashing public spending, halting state subsidies for fuel and transport, and cutting tens of thousands of public service jobs (archived here) in a bid to improve his country’s economy.

However, the claim about inflation in Argentina and Nigeria is misleading.

Annual vs monthly rates

Inflation is a measure of what a basket of goods and services costs now compared to a previous period, expressed as a percentage.

In Nigeria, the National Bureau of Statistics tracks inflation.

AFP Fact Check combed through the bureau’s inflation reports online and found the post misrepresented Nigeria’s annual and monthly inflation rates.

Monthly rates track inflation from month to month, while annual rates show inflation over the previous 12-month period. 

Nigeria's monthly inflation rate for February of this year was 3.12 percent (archived here). In January it was 2.64 percent and 2.29 percent in December 2023 (archived here).

While this showed the continuation of an upward trend, meaning goods and services cost a little more each month, the situation was still much rosier in Nigeria than in Argentina.

Instead of comparing apples with apples, the misleading post reproduced Nigeria’s annual inflation rates while passing them off as monthly (28.92 percent in December 2023 and 29.90 percent in January 2024).

<span>A screenshot shows Nigeria’s year-on-year inflation rate, taken from the statistics bureau report on March 17, 2024 </span>
A screenshot shows Nigeria’s year-on-year inflation rate, taken from the statistics bureau report on March 17, 2024

Moreover, as the post was published a day before February’s inflationary outlook was publicly released, the author appears to have introduced a different metric altogether by passing off the annual food inflation rate -- which stood at 35.41 percent at the end of January 2024 (archived here) -- as the monthly inflation rate for February 2024.

Argentina crisis

Meanwhile, Argentina’s National Institute for Statistics and Census (INDEC) said on March 12, 2024, that the monthly inflation rate for the country was 13.2 percent in February (archived here).

It was 20.6 percent in January (archived here) and 25.5 percent in December 2023 (archived here).

These correspond with the figures in the claim.

However, INDEC put the annual inflation rates in February and January 2024, and December 2023, at 276.2 percent, 254.2 percent and 211.4 percent respectively.

These figures are significantly higher when compared with Nigeria’s annual inflation rates for the same period.

Projected growth

At the end of January, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) slashed the projected growth for the Argentinian economy on the back of Milei’s economic plan.

The IMF predicted that the country's economy would shrink by 2.8 percent this year, after an estimated contraction of 1.1 percent in 2023 (archived here).

It, however, expects Nigeria’s economy to grow by at least 3.2 percent despite possible headwinds from a weakened naira, inflation, and “policy tightening” (archived here).

A World Bank report predicted 2.3 percent and 3.3 percent economic growth for Argentina and Nigeria respectively (archived here).