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Naira Plunges Further; Now 372 a Dollar

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The acute scarcity of foreign exchange, especially the dollar, continued on Wednesday with the naira closing at 372 against the United States currency at the parallel forex market.

According to Punch, forex dealers linked the persistent fall of the naira to panic buying of the dollar and other major international currencies by importers, individuals and businessmen.

With the naira exchanging at 372 to the dollar, the local currency has lost 20 per cent of its value at the parallel market in the last 10 days.

The Central Bank of Nigeria has, however, left its official rate unchanged at N197 to the dollar at the interbank window.

The naira, which hit a record low of 352 against the greenback on Tuesday, had closed at 345 on Monday.

On Friday, the local currency fell to 338 against the US currency, a day after the Bankers’ Committee expressed concern over the mounting foreign exchange bills for school fees and medical bill payment.

The naira, which has been on a free fall in the past few weeks, fell steadily at the parallel market from 310 last Monday to 335 last Thursday.

Equities stocks fell almost by two per cent on Wednesday, hit by a major decline in cement companies’ shares, including Dangote Cement, which accounts for the third of local bourse capitalisation, Reuters reported.

The local bourse index dropped by 1.81 per cent to 24,070 points as investors took profits from previous gains on the stocks.

“Due to the rapid decline of the naira’s value, some offshore investors are booking profit and selling down their holdings,” one stockbroker said.

Shares in Dangote Cement fell by 4.11 per cent; Ashaka Cement was down by four per cent, while Cement Company of Northern Nigeria dropped by 8.89 per cent to drag the index down.

The currency and stock markets have been hit hard by the persistent fall in crude oil prices, Nigeria’s main export, causing a decline in government revenues and the exit of foreign investors from the local bourse.

A forex dealer at the international wing of the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos, Mr. Saliu Mohammed, said the increasing demand for the greenback was overwhelming the market.

This, he said, was responsible for the naira’s free fall.

“Most individuals who sell (dollars) to us are no longer willing; but demand is piling up,” another dealer in Ikeja, who identified himself as Ibrahim Tukur, said.

Last month, the CBN banned dollar sales to the BDC operators, sending the naira to a record low at the black market, and later stopped the daily sale to the interbank market, in an effort to conserve the external reserves, now at their lowest in more than 11 years.

The nation realises around 90 per cent of its foreign exchange earnings from crude oil exports. The foreign reserves have fallen to $27.83bn as of February 12, data from the CBN website showed.

Commenting on the development, the Managing Director, Cowry Assets Management Limited, Mr. Johnson Chukwu, said, “The CBN does not have the forex to manage the exchange rate today. Unless we adjust the exchange rate, things may continue to get worse. As it is today, the naira can no longer be a store of value, going by the rate at which it is losing its value at the parallel market.

“Most people are buying dollar to store their wealth. We cannot ignore the parallel market because that is where most people are holding their transactions. A timely intervention by the Ministry of Finance and the CBN to give a clear guidance on how they intend to manage the exchange rate will save the day.”

 

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

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Finance

Bank of Ghana Holds Key Interest Rate at 13.5%

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Ghana one cedi - Investors King

Ghana’s central bank on Monday kept its main interest rate unchanged at 13.5% with concerns over rising inflation balanced out by optimistic Covid-19 recovery forecasts, Governor Ernest Addison said in a statement.

The Ghanaian economy grew by just 0.4% last year – its slowest rate since 1983. But it has gained ground in 2021, expanding 3.1% in the first quarter and 3.9% in the second.

The bank’s Monetary Policy Committee sees Ghana’s overall economic outlook continuing on an upward trajectory despite inflation having risen for a fourth month in a row in August.

“Developments continue to point to a sustained recovery in economic activity following the downturn at the peak of the pandemic,” Addison said.

“Given these considerations, and the fairly balanced risks to inflation and growth in the outlook, the committee decided to keep the policy rate unchanged,” he added.

Ghana’s consumer price inflation was at 9.7% year-on-year in August, with food inflation, the largest contributor to the country’s overall inflation rate, rising for a third straight month.

Although the inflation rate remains within the central bank’s targeted band of 8% plus or minus 2 percentage points, Addison cautioned that a close monitoring of the situation would be necessary to swiftly mitigate any impacts to local markets.

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Banking Sector

Stanbic IBTC: Working Towards Net Zero Emissions

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As part of the Stanbic IBTC 2021 Sustainability Week event, Stanbic IBTC Holdings PLC, a member of Standard Bank Group, organised a sustainability webinar tagged “Working Towards Net Zero Emissions”.

The objective of the virtual event which was held on Monday, 20 September 2021 via the Group’s #Bluetalks platform, was to promote public awareness on the impact of climate change and provide practical methods towards reducing carbon footprints and achieving net zero emissions.

Delivering his opening remark at the event, Dr. Demola Sogunle, Chief Executive, Stanbic IBTC Holdings PLC said: “We all cannot continue to ignore our responsibility in the current changes to the climate. Through small adjustments leading to a more conscientious and sustainable lifestyle, each one of us can take part in the global climate protection project. As reflected in one of our strategic value drivers SEE (Social, Environmental and Economic) Impact, Stanbic IBTC is focused on ensuring it does business responsibly whilst positively impacting the society and environment where we operate. As such, the 2021 Stanbic IBTC Sustainability Week is an opportunity for us to advance awareness around practical steps we are taking, and more which we can take, to make our world a better place.”

The webinar featured seasoned experts including Temesoye Jack, Group Head, Sales, Banks, Gas Stations and SMEs, Starsight Energy; Professor Kenneth Amaeshi, Chair in Sustainable Finance and Governance at the European University Institute (EUI) and Oluwasegun Olajuwan, Group Chief Executive Officer, THLD Group.

Temesoye Jack stated that renewable energy sources like solar energy can help countries attain net zero emissions. She said, “Solar energy can help us move towards reducing greenhouse emissions. We need to have more energy efficient offices nationwide. However, this shift will not happen overnight as it is a gradual process.”

She explained that Nigeria has barely scratched the surface when it comes to renewable energy and emphasised that sustainable practices do not have to end in the office but must be observed in all areas of the country

Prof. Kenneth Amaeshi highlighted the importance of harmonising technology upgrades and sustainable growth to reduce carbon emissions. He explained that sustainability at the global level is targeted at mitigating the adverse effects of climate change.

According to Prof. Kenneth, “From recent surveys, it is clear individuals are ready to go green. The affordability of clean energy will determine if we will be able to reduce carbon emissions.”

Speaking on practical steps that can be adopted to help in achieving net zero emissions, Oluwasegun Olajuwan, Group Chief Executive Officer, THLD Group, said “Autogas has been around for 40 years, and Nigeria is not fully embracing it. It is safer, cleaner and more cost effective than fossil fuel and diesel. Vehicle conversion from fuel to Autogas is affordable. CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) is more efficient than fuel. The use of CNG in vehicles mitigates the emission of nitrous oxide and hydrocarbons by 40% and 90% respectively, compared to petrol.”

Omolola Fashesin, Head of Sustainability at Stanbic IBTC, thanked the panellists for the informative session, which helped create awareness of alternative sources that can help reduce carbon emissions. She urged the participants to apply learnings from the webinar to take practical steps to reduce their carbon footprint.

Finally, in his closing remarks, Kunle Adedeji, Executive Director Finance and Value Management stated that “at Stanbic IBTC, we are committed to facilitating a better and more sustainable future for all. We have already commenced various workstreams that will help us on the journey towards Net Zero emissions. Some of these include understanding our energy sources, consumption patterns and possible areas for efficiency; adoption of cleaner energy sources in our office locations (leveraging Autogas and Solar energy solutions); and adoption of Tree Planting programs which will help us with carbon sequestration.”

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Credit to Private Sector Rises to N33.26 Trillion in August 2021

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has disclosed that credit to private sector went up by N498.6billion in August to N33.26trillion from N32.8trillion reported in July 2021.

The N33.36trillion figure announced by the CBN is a new record that was fuelled by banks, among others increased lending to real sector.

CBN in its Money and Credit Statistics for the period revealed that credit to private sector in January was N30.65trillion and dropped by 0.47 per cent to N30.5 trillion in February.

However, in March, it closed at N31.44trillion and crossed the N32.1trillion mark in April to N32.12 trillion.

In addition, the CBN reported N32.63trillion and N33.36trillion credit to private sector May and June respectively.
Analysts believe banks lending to real sector played a critical role in the recent increase in Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

An economist and Chief Executive Officer, BIC Consultancy Services, Dr Boniface Chizea said he is optimistic that banks credit to real sector, amid severe challenges are yielding positive results. According to him, “The volume of credit which seems humongous will deliver expected dividends despite perceived inhospitable investment environment. We should therefore remain confident and hopeful that desired impact must be felt if not immediately then in due course.

“We must also accept the fact that we would be challenged if we want to isolate the direct impact of the credit on the economy. So, we must remain assured that the credit is not money down the drain.”

On his part, Economist & Private Sector Advocate, Dr Muda Yusuf said the growth in credit to private sector is laudable.

He noted that the impact would depend on the sectoral spread, quality of credit, tenure of the funds and interest rate.

Yusuf said: “My guess is that a significant percentage of this have been given to large corporates, multinationals and high end medium enterprises. The CBN has done a lot in lending to agriculture, but the quality of the lending is an issue. Reports indicate high default rates in agricultural credit, especially the anchor borrowers’ scheme.

“Monetary intervention is imperative for real sector development. But it is not sufficient to guarantee the desired outcomes of growth and productivity. The context in which businesses are operating is as important as the funding, if not even more important. The totality of the investment environment must be right for sustainable real sector development to be achieved.”

He added, “Therefore, to complement the credit to the private sector, the other factors that should reckoned with include infrastructure quality, especially power, roads and railways. There are also issues around the quality of the regulatory environment, the foreign exchange policy regime, the ports situation, volatility of the naira exchange rate, the tax environment and the security situation.

“These are not things monetary intervention can solve. It takes an impactful fiscal policy intervention to fix these problems. Some of the issues border on economic reforms that need to happen. Engagements between the private sector stakeholders and policymakers is critical to achieving sustainable development of the economy.”

The Governor, CBN, Mr. Godwin Emefiele had in his communiqué at the end of August Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting said the committee noted the improvement in lending to the real sector following the introduction of the Loans-to-Deposit Ratio (LDR) in 2019.

According to him, “Industry gross credit increased by N6.63 trillion from N15.57 trillion at end-May, 2019 to N22.20 trillion at end-July, 2021. The credit growth was largely recorded in manufacturing, oil and gas and agriculture sectors.”

He expressed further that the MPC members noted the unequivocal importance of credit growth to the sustained recovery of output and the moderation in price development as supply improves.

“It thus, called on the Bank to maintain adequate surveillance on banks to ensure compliance with its extant credit policy, while ensuring that they are not unduly exposed to credit risks.

“The Committee also noted the relevance of the Bank’s suite of interventions to the overall system credit, urging its continued use to fund sectors with high employment-generating capacity,” he said.

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