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Biggest African Economies Stall on Politics, Commodity Slump

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Nigeria inflation hits six-year high

Africa’s two largest economies are stalling amid slumping commodity prices and political infighting that’s hampering decision making.

A government report on Wednesday will probably show Nigeria contracted for a second consecutive quarter in the three months through June as the price and output of oil, its main source of revenue, were squeezed. While South Africa may have avoided falling into a recession, according to the median estimate of five economists surveyed by Bloomberg, the continent’s most-industrialized economy will not grow this year, the nation’s central bank said last month.

The global slump in commodity prices and weak demand from the continent’s main export partners have hit Nigeria, Africa’s second-largest oil producer, and South Africa, where mining produce accounts for about half of export earnings, weighing on both economies. A shortage of foreign currency in Nigeria after the central bank held a currency peg for more than a year, curbed imports, further limiting output, while political uncertainty in South Africa increased in the last week.

“Both countries’ economies are on a declining path,” Manji Cheto, senior vice president at Teneo Intelligence in London, said by phone. “That’s being led by politics in South Africa, and government policies that are reactive in Nigeria and might not work in the short term.”

Nigeria’s economy probably shrank 1.6 percent in the three months through June, according to the median of 15 economist estimates compiled by Bloomberg, following a 0.4 percent year-on-year contraction in the first quarter. Gross domestic product may decline by 1.8 percent for the year, according to the International Monetary Fund.

Nigeria delayed the approval of its record spending plans of 6.1 trillion naira ($19.4 billion) as President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration haggled with lawmakers over budgetary allocations. Militants have destroyed energy installations in the Niger River delta, cutting the nation’s oil output to an almost three-decade low, and further reducing earnings from an industry hit by a more than 50 percent drop in price since the middle of 2014.Nigeria relies on oil for two-thirds of government revenue and 90 percent of foreign-currency earnings.

Commodity Prices

“Both countries are adjusting to the decline in commodity prices,” said Sizwe Nxedlana, chief economist at Johannesburg-based First National Bank. “The nice thing about South Africa is that we are significantly more diversified as an economy than Nigeria.”

Nigerian central bank Governor Godwin Emefiele increased borrowing costs by 200 basis points last month to fight inflation that reached 16.5 percent in June and lure investors to help prop up the naira. The currency has lost more than a third of its value against the dollar since the central bank removed a currency peg on June 20.

Diversified Economy

While South Africa’s rand strengthened more than 10 percent against the dollar between the start of the year and early August, helping the economy to temporarily replace Nigeria as the continent’s largest in dollar terms, the currency slumped more than 5 percent since reports a week ago that Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan may be arrested. Gordhan, 67, said on Aug. 24 his attorneys received a letter from the Hawks, a special police unit, asking him to come to their office. He did not comply with the request.

“It’s a foregone conclusion that Nigeria is in recession,” Cheto said. “Revenue growth has been positive in South Africa, but if the political situation deteriorates, it will show negatively in the economy.”

The naira was unchanged at 314.75 per dollar by 9:01a.m. on Lagos on Tuesday. The rand strengthened 0.3 percent to 14.3682 per dollar.

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Businessinsider, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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Crude Oil

Crude Oil Dips Slightly on Friday Amid Demand Concerns

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Crude oil gains

On Friday, global crude oil prices experienced a slight dip, primarily attributed to mounting concerns surrounding demand despite signs of a tightening market.

Brent crude prices edged lower, nearing $83 per barrel, following a recent uptick of 1.6% over two consecutive sessions.

Similarly, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude hovered around $78 per barrel. Despite the dip, market indicators suggest a relatively robust market, with US crude inventories expanding less than anticipated in the previous week.

The oil market finds itself amidst a complex dynamic, balancing optimistic signals such as reduced OPEC+ output and heightened tensions in the Middle East against persistent worries about Chinese demand, particularly as the nation grapples with economic challenges.

This delicate equilibrium has led oil futures to mirror the oscillations of broader stock markets, underscoring the interconnectedness of global economic factors.

Analysts, including Michael Tran from RBC Capital Markets LLC, highlight the recurring theme of robust oil demand juxtaposed with concerning Chinese macroeconomic data, contributing to market volatility.

Also, recent attacks on commercial shipping in the Red Sea by Houthi militants have added a risk premium to oil futures, reflecting geopolitical uncertainties beyond immediate demand-supply dynamics.

While US crude inventories saw a slight rise, they remain below seasonal averages, indicating some resilience in the market despite prevailing uncertainties.

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Commodities

Nigeria’s Petrol Imports Decrease by 1 Billion Litres Following Subsidy Removal

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Ship Aveon Offshore

Nigeria’s monthly petrol imports declined by approximately 1 billion litres following the fuel subsidy removal by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) reported.

The NBS findings illuminate the tangible effects of this policy shift on the country’s petroleum importation dynamics.

Prior to the subsidy removal, the NBS report delineated a consistent pattern of petrol imports with quantities ranging between 1.91 billion and 2.29 billion litres from March to May 2023.

However, in the aftermath of Tinubu’s decision, the nation witnessed a notable downturn in petrol imports, with figures plummeting to 1.64 billion litres in June, the first post-subsidy month.

This downward trend persisted in subsequent months, with July recording a further reduction to 1.45 billion litres and August witnessing a significant decline to 1.09 billion litres.

August’s import figures represented a decrease of over 1 billion litres compared to the corresponding period in 2022.

The NBS report underscores the pivotal role of the subsidy removal in reshaping Nigeria’s petrol import landscape with the Nigerian National Petroleum Company emerging as the sole importer of fuel in the current scenario.

Despite higher petrol imports in the first half of 2023 compared to the previous year, the decline in June, July, and August underscores the profound impact of subsidy removal on import dynamics, affirming the NBS’s latest findings.

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Crude Oil

Nigeria’s Oil Rig Count Soars From 11 to 30, Says NUPRC CEO

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Nigeria oil rig

The Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC), Gbenga Komolafe, has announced a surge in the country’s oil rig count.

Komolafe disclosed that Nigeria’s oil rigs have escalated from 11 to 30, a substantial increase since 2011.

Attributing this surge to concerted efforts by NUPRC and other governmental stakeholders, Komolafe highlighted the importance of instilling confidence, certainty, and predictability in the oil and gas industry.

He explained the pivotal role of the recently implemented Petroleum Industry Act (PIA), which has spurred significant capital expenditure amounting to billions of dollars over the past two and a half years.

Speaking in Lagos after receiving The Sun Award, Komolafe underscored the effective discharge of NUPRC’s statutory mandate, which has contributed to the success stories witnessed in the sector.

The surge in Nigeria’s oil rig count signifies a tangible measure of vibrant activities within the upstream oil and gas sector, reflecting increased drilling activity and heightened industry dynamism.

Also, Komolafe noted that NUPRC has issued over 17 regulations aimed at enhancing certainty and predictability in industry operations, aligning with the objectives outlined in the PIA.

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