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S’Africa Overtakes Nigeria as Africa’s Biggest Economy

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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.

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.

Economy

FG Consider Diversification To Generate Revenue

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As revenue from oil nosedives following incessant global price fluctuations, the Federal Government is now channeling efforts to the development of minerals in the mines and steel industry to shore up foreign exchange earnings.

Officials of the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development said on Wednesday that while there had been concerted efforts to develop various minerals in the sector, much emphasis had been placed recently on the development of bitumen, barite and gold.

They told our correspondent in Abuja that the government through the mines and steel ministry was striving to diversify the Nigerian economy away from oil as the major foreign exchange earner for Nigeria.

They also confirmed that large quantities of gold had been discovered in various locations in Zamfara and Osun states.

Asked if the government had initiated programmes to explore the minerals and boost revenues now that the country’s income had plunged, the Special Assistant on Media to the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Ayodeji Adeyemi, replied in the affirmative.

He said, “Indeed, the ministry has the mandate to generate revenue and diversify the economy through the mines sector.

“And bitumen is one of the key resources which the nation is abundantly endowed with, that has been identified for strategic development.”

To buttress his position, Adeyemi shared some recent presentations of the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite, where the minister said his ministry was gathering data on some bitumen fields across the country to attract investors.

“A lot of people are interested in bitumen, which is coming from both local and foreign investors. However, we are still acquiring data in some of the fields,” the minister stated.

On barite, the minister said the mines and steel ministry was working on raising the quality of barite produced in Nigeria to an internationally acceptable standard, as certified by the American Petroleum Institute.

Adegbite said his ministry had contracted a consultant to help raise the standard in the local production of barite to ensure that oil industry players make use of barite produced in Nigeria as against importing the commodity from other countries.

He said, “Barite is a critical weighting material in drilling fluids used in the oil industry. We have a lot of barites but the issue is that it is not produced to API standards. However, we are putting a system in place which would be ready to launch in about July.

“We have got the millers who can produce barite to API standard. Hence we will be able to compete with foreigners and it would save Nigeria a lot of foreign exchange in import substitution.”

On the development of gold, officials at the ministry further stated that the commodity had been aggregated for the production of bullion bars and that this was the first time that such aggregation was happening in Nigeria.

They stated that the gold was sourced from artisanal miners, while the final refining to bullion was done in Turkey.

The sources stated that the ministry had registered two refineries that would now refine to LBMA standard when they come on stream. LBMA is the de facto standard, trusted around the world.

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Economy

Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority Generates N160.06 Billion in 2020

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Naira Exchange Rates - Investors King

The Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) generated revenue of N160.06 billion in 2020, according to the latest audited financial reports announced by the Managing Director of NSIA Mr. Uche Orji.

The NSIA income came from devaluation gain of N51 billion, and core income of N109 billion compared to N33.07 billion in 2019.

But Orji lamented: “Covid-19 adversely affected logistics around infrastructure projects, especially the toll road projects and the presidential fertiliser initiative.

Despite the pandemic, the Authority achieved 33 percent growth in Net Assets to N772.75 billion compared to the previous year’s performance of N579.54 billion.

Orji said the NSIA “received additional contribution of $250 million; and provided first stabilisation support to the Federal Government of $150 million withdrawn from Stabilisation Fund last year.”

The same year, the NSIA received $311 million from funds recovered from the late General Abacha from the United States Department of Justice and Island of Jersey for deployment towards the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF) projects of Abuja-Kaduna-Kano Highway, Lagos Ibadan Expressway and Second Niger Bridge.

In response to COVID-19, Orji said: “NSIA partnered the global Citizen, a not-for profit group, to form the Nigeria Solidarity Support Fund. Separately NSIA acquired and distributed oxygen concentrators to the 21-teaching hospital as part of corporate social responsibility; in addition to staffing support to the Presidential taskforce on COVID-19.”

In 2020, the NSIA “invested additional capital into NG Clearing, the first derivative clearing house in Nigeria to maintain NSIA’s shareholding at 16.5 per cent following the company’s rights issue of 2020″ Orji said.

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Economy

EFCC Recovers $153m, 80 Assets from Diezani, Says Bawa EFCC Chairman

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Diezani Allison-Madueke - Investors King

The Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abdulrasheed Bawa has said the commission recovered $153 million and 80 properties from the former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke.

Bawa said: “There are several cases surrounding that. As you may have read, I was part of that investigation, and we have done quite a lot. In one of the cases, we recovered $153 million; we have secured the final forfeiture of over 80 properties in Nigeria valued at about $80 million.

“We have done quite a bit on that. The other cases as it relates to the $115 million INEC bribery as the media has sensationalised it, is also ongoing across the federation.”

We are looking forward to the time when we will, maybe, have her in the country, and of course, review things and see what will happen going forward. The case has certainly not been abandoned.

Speaking on the trial of former Abia State Governor Orji Uzor Kalu, he said his trial will start soon in Lagos.

Bawa added: “The position is very clear. The EFCC succeeded in 12 years to get him convicted at the Federal High Court. Of course, he went to the Supreme Court, and because the judge that convicted him has been elevated, the ruling was made and the EFCC as a respecter of the rule of law, we have taken it as it is. The Supreme Court has ordered that we should go back to the Federal High Court in Lagos.

“Now, we are at the Federal High Court in Abuja, and we have applied to the court for the case to be transferred to Lagos as ordered by the Supreme Court to enable us start all over again.

“It, however, draws a precedence, and those are the issues; law as the lawyers will say, is a living thing; we had the ACJA in 2015, we have had this problem of elevation of judges from High Court to Court of Appeal, and we pushed that they should be given the opportunity to finish their cases, because some of these cases have taken a very long time.

“We thought we had succeeded in getting this in ACJA, The law was, however, not seen as such. Now, we may have to solve the problem from the constitution, and then, we will be home and dry.”

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