In dollar terms, South Africa is once again the biggest economy on the African continent, a position it reclaimed from Nigeria.
This was attributed to the appreciation of the rand, South Africa’s currency, and the devaluation of the Nigerian naira following the introduction of a flexible foreign exchange regime.
Using the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at the end of 2015 published by the International Monetary Fund, Bloomberg reported that the size of South Africa’s economy was $301 billion at the rand’s current exchange rate, while Nigeria’s GDP was put at $296 billion.
Bloomberg noted that the rand has gained more than 16 per cent against the US currency since the start of 2016, while in contrast, Nigeria’s naira has lost more than a third of its value.
In afternoon trade wednesday, the rand firmed by more than a per cent against the dollar, to R13.29.
Despite the switch, Nigeria and South Africa both face the risk of recession, having contracted in the first quarter of the year, according to Bloomberg.
Nigeria’s economy shrank by 0.4 per cent, while South Africa’s GDP contracted by 0.2 per cent.
Nigeria has suffered amid low oil prices, while South Africa is sensitive to shifts in the commodity cycle.
“More than the growth outlook, in the short term the ranking of these economies is likely to be determined by exchange rate movements,” an economist at Exotix Partners LLP, Alan Cameron said.
He said although Nigeria was unlikely to be unseated as Africa’s largest economy in the long run, “the momentum that took it there in the first place is now long gone”.
Also, the Head of Research, SCM Capital Limited, Mr. Sewa Wusu, told THISDAY that the challenge of naira devaluation has caused a lot of economic challenges to the country, particularly with respect to the GDP.
“This should give policy makers the drive to rectify the forex challenges. Of course they have done their best by introducing a flexible exchange rate, but the issue is beyond that. The issue currently is about our forex earning potential.
“But I think the government is up to the challenge. I think we need a quick fix on the economy. That would help to support the naira and strengthen the currency,” Wusu added.
But the CEO, Cowry Asset Management Limited, Johnson Chukwu, said the priority of the government should be to restore economic growth, saying that if growth is not restored, the naira would continue to depreciate.
“When the economy begins to grow, the currency would adjust appropriately. So the focus of the government should be on whatever it intends to do to restore growth. We are heading into a recession and we should take steps to avoid depression.
“If growth is restored, eventually the economy would grow. There is no magic we can do for the naira to regain strength unless we restore growth,” Chukwu said in a phone interview with THISDAY.
The South African Reserve Bank forecasts zero growth for 2016, while unemployment still remains above 26 per cent. In July, South Africa stepped past Egypt as the continents’ second largest economy in dollar terms, having dropped behind the North African country earlier in the year.
Meanwhile, the naira dipped to N317 to the dollar on the interbank forex market yesterday, lower than the N312.50 from the previous day. On the parallel market, however, the naira firmed up slightly to N394 to the dollar, higher than the N395 on Tuesday.
The Central Bank of Nigeria intervened in the interbank forex market on Tuesday to help support the naira after it hit an all-time low of N350 to the dollar in thin trading on that day, traders had said.
The naira has been under pressure since the central bank floated the currency in June to allow it trade freely on the interbank market. The currency has been hit by a plunge in oil prices, Nigeria’s economic mainstay, which caused foreign investors to flee bond and equities markets.
The central bank last month told international money transfer operators to pay dollar proceeds from customer transfers into local commercial banks in naira, while selling the dollars themselves to bureau de change (BDC) outlets.
On Tuesday the central bank pegged the dollar transactions which banks can carry out with BDCs at $30,000 per week and set a margin for banks to sell dollar to currency outlets at not more than 1.5 per cent over the rate at which they bought.
The CBN hopes the move will help narrow the gulf between the official and black market rates and boost dollar liquidity, traders said.
The central bank set a margin of two per cent over the rate at which BDCs sourced dollars from banks as resale premium to customers and pegged BDC disbursement at $5,000 per transaction to cover travel allowance, medical bills and school fees.
The naira hit N400 against the dollar on the black market last week, weakened partly by dollar demand from individuals travelling abroad for their summer holidays, Reuters reported.
No Plan to Increase Fuel Price; Says FG
The Federal Government has stated that it has no plan to increase fuel price during the yuletide period.
This assurance is coming amid the nationwide fuel scarcity which has pushed the price of petrol above N250 in many retail stations.
Investors King learnt that fuel is being held for N250 per litre in Abuja and several other cities across the country while black marketers are charging between N400 and N450 per litre.
The scarcity and the high price of fuel are however becoming unbearable for many Nigerians, especially those who have reasons to embark on business travel for the December festivals.
According to the National Public Relations Officer, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), Chief Ukadike Chinedu, most of the association members, who owned the bulk of the filling stations across the country, were now subjected to purchasing PMS at about N220/litre, which was why many outlets currently dispensed at about N250/litre and above.
He noted that the cost of the commodity has been on the rise due to its unavailability and other concerns in the sector.
He added that the price of fuel could be sold from N350/litre to N400/litre before the end of the year.
Meanwhile, a number of senior officials at the NNPC had stated that the subsidy was becoming too burdensome on the national oil company, as this was another reason for the scarcity of PMS.
According to a source who is familiar with the development as reported by Punch News, “How can we continue to import 60 million litres of petrol daily and keep subsidising it, while millions of litres are either diverted or cannot be accounted for? The burden is too much, as you rightly captured in that story”.
Investors King understands that NNPC is the sole importer of petroleum into the country and it pays billions of naira every month to subsidise the product to N147 per litre.
Reuters News reported that in August 2022, NNPC paid more than $1 billion as fuel subsidy while the federal government earmarked N3.6 trillion as fuel subsidy in the 2023 budget proposal.
Fuel Scarcity: NNPC Declares 2billion Liters in Stock, Blames Scarcity on Road Construction
NNPC Claimed it as 2 billion litres of fuel despite scarcity
The Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) has blamed the recent fuel scarcity on road construction around Apapa, noting that the corporation has about 2 billion litres of fuel in stock.
According to a statement issued by NNPC Executive Vice President, Downstream, Mr Adeyemi Adetunji, the Nigeria National Petroleum Company has about 2 billion litres of fuel which can last the country conveniently for more than 30 days.
The Executive Vice President further blamed the queues on the road construction around Apapa axis which has slowed down the movement of oil trucks to several parts of the country.
“The recent queues in Lagos are largely due to ongoing road infrastructure projects around Apapa and access road challenges in Lagos” he said.
He however noted that more filling stations should have Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) otherwise known as petrol with the ease in gridlock along the apapa axis.
“The gridlock is easing out and NNPC Ltd has programmed vessels and trucks to unconstrained depots and massive load outs from depots to states are closely monitored,” he said.
Investors King gathered that several states including Abuja have been impacted by the supply chain difficulty caused by the construction around Apapa.
The scarcity of fuel has therefore led to the hike in price. In most places across the country, fuel is sold as high as N250 per litre. Several fuel stations are already taking advantage of the situation coupled with the increase in the movement of people and goods owing to the December festivals.
Speaking further, Adeyemi noted that the situation will soon be back to normalcy as NNPC is taking measures to address the situation.
“We want to reassure Nigerians that NNPC has sufficient products and we significantly increased product loading in selected depots and extended hours at strategic stations to ensure sufficiency nationwide.
“We are also working with industry stakeholders to ensure normalcy is returned as soon as possible,” he concluded.
Global Growth to Drop Below 2% in 2023, Says Citi
Citigroup on Wednesday forecast global growth to slow to below 2% next year, echoing similar projections by major financial institutions such as Goldman Sachs, Barclays, and J.P. Morgan.
Strategists at the brokerage cited continued challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war — which skyrocketed inflation to decades-high levels and triggered aggressive policy tightening — as reasons behind the outlook.
“We see global performance as likely (being) plagued by ‘rolling’ country-level recessions through the year ahead,” said Citi strategists, led by Nathan Sheets.
While the Wall-Street investment bank expects the U.S. economy to grow 1.9% this year, it is seen more than halving to 0.7% in 2023.
It expects year-on-year U.S. inflation at 4.8% next year, with the U.S. Federal Reserve’s terminal rate seen between 5.25% and 5.5%.
Among other geographies, Citi sees the UK and euro area falling into recession by the end of this year, as both economies face the heat of energy constraints on supply and demand front, along with tighter monetary and fiscal policies.
For 2023, Citi projects UK and euro area to contract 1.5% and 0.4%, respectively.
In China, the brokerage expects the government to soften its zero-COVID policy, which is seen driving a 5.6% growth in gross domestic product next year.
Emerging markets, meanwhile, are seen growing 3.7%, with India’s 5.7% growth — slower than this year’s 6.7% prediction — seen leading among major economies.
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