A guesthouse belonging to one of Nigeria’s leading pastors collapsed last month, killing 115 pilgrims (mostly South Africans). Attention has since shifted form the tragedy to the huge untaxed sector of Africa’s top economy, the so called Mega-churches.
Modelled after those in the United States, these popular houses of worship saw hundreds of millions of dollars transacted each year. Averaging 200,000 worshippers for some churches, this constituent a huge chunk of the economy, where ten of thousands of people are employed, as well as boosting tourism.
And like most other opaque entities like the oil industry in Africa, how much of Nigeria’s $510 Billion GDP is contributed by these megachurches remains a mystery.
As these churches maintain charity status, they have no obligation to open their books and are exempt from taxes; an increasingly controversial practice in the oil-rich nation where poverty is still rampant. This marks a strong contrast with preachers who have reached the highest wealth ranks of the country due to the surging popularity of these megachurches and the fact christians make up half of Nigeria’s 170 million population.
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