Ratings agency Standard & Poor’s cuts Nigeria’s credit rating on Friday, saying the drop in oil production and a restrictive foreign exchange regime was hurting its economic prospects.
In making the downgrade to ‘B/B’, S&P said that Nigeria’s delay in passing an expansionary budget along with taking on more debt had increased its credit risk.
Highlighting “steep increases” in the debt servicing ratio, S&P warned that the country had to focus on improving its non-oil revenue.
But it said that if Nigeria was able to respond to its economic crisis with sound policies — including anti-corruption measures that “materially” boosted non-oil revenues — the economy could return to higher growth by 2018.
Nigeria officially announced it was in recession in August, but with double-digit inflation hitting consumers and businesses complaining they are unable to get dollars, signs of the downtown were obvious months ago.
Ongoing attacks by rebels in the oil-producing swampland of the Niger Delta has compounded the pain of low crude prices, while banks have been hit by currency curbs.
“The oil sector narrowed the most in the second quarter, falling by close to 20 per cent year-on-year following intensified pipeline vandalism in the Niger delta,” S&P said.
Nigeria has moved more slowly than expected on implementing an expansionary 6.1-trillion-naira ($19.4-billion) budget hampering a quick economic rebound, the ratings agency said.
The country of 170 million people relies on oil and gas for the bulk of its exports and around 70 per cent of its revenue after years of chronic under-investment and neglect that has caused other industries to wither.
Federal Government Halts Cooking Gas Export to Lower Local Prices
In a bid to stabilize domestic prices and meet rising demand for cooking gas within Nigeria, the Federal Government has announced a temporary halt on the exportation of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), commonly known as cooking gas.
This decision follows a significant surge in the cost of cooking gas, which has placed a strain on consumers across the country.
According to reports, the halt in LPG export aims to increase the availability of the commodity within Nigeria’s borders, thereby reducing its local price.
The move is part of broader efforts to address the challenges faced by consumers grappling with the high cost of living.
In recent years, the demand for cooking gas has steadily increased in Nigeria, driven by urbanization, population growth, and a shift towards cleaner energy sources.
However, despite being a major producer of LPG, Nigeria has struggled to meet its domestic demand due to insufficient local production and distribution infrastructure.
Data from the Nigerian Midstream Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority reveals that while the total consumption of cooking gas in Nigeria has been on the rise, the country has relied heavily on imports to bridge the supply gap.
The recent decision by the government underscores its commitment to prioritizing the domestic market and ensuring that Nigerians have access to affordable cooking gas.
Consumers have been grappling with escalating prices, with reports indicating a significant increase in the cost of refilling a 12.5kg cylinder of cooking gas in major cities like Abuja, Lagos, and Kano.
The decision to halt LPG exports signals a proactive measure by the government to mitigate the adverse effects of rising prices and alleviate the financial burden on households across the nation.
Manufacturing Sector Records 7.70% Quarter-on-Quarter Growth in Q4 2023
In the fourth quarter of 2023, Nigeria’s manufacturing sector grew by 7.70% year-on-year, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
The surge in growth reflects a significant uptick from the preceding quarter and underscores the resilience of the manufacturing industry amid economic challenges.
This growth trajectory indicates positive momentum and signals potential opportunities for economic recovery and development.
The manufacturing sector, comprising thirteen key activities ranging from oil refining to motor vehicles and assembly, demonstrated notable dynamism across various subsectors.
This growth surge is attributed to increased production, enhanced operational efficiencies, and strategic investments across the manufacturing value chain.
Despite facing headwinds such as supply chain disruptions and regulatory uncertainties, the sector’s robust performance underscores its pivotal role in driving economic diversification, job creation, and industrialization efforts in Nigeria.
Moving forward, sustaining this growth momentum will require continued policy support, investment in infrastructure, and efforts to address key bottlenecks hindering the sector’s expansion.
By fostering an enabling business environment and promoting innovation and technology adoption, Nigeria’s manufacturing sector can further catalyze inclusive economic growth and contribute significantly to the nation’s development agenda.
Nigeria’s GDP Grows by 3.46% in Q4 2023, Driven by Services
Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 3.46% in the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2023 on the back of robust performance of the services sector, according to data released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
The GDP expansion though slightly lower than the 3.52% recorded in the same period of 2022, reflects a positive trajectory for the Nigerian economy amid ongoing challenges.
The growth rate surpassed the 2.54% recorded in the preceding quarter, indicating a rebound in economic activity.
The services sector emerged as the key driver of growth expanding by 3.98% and contributing 56.55% to the overall GDP.
This sector’s resilience underscores its pivotal role in Nigeria’s economic landscape, encompassing diverse industries such as telecommunications, finance, and real estate.
Also, the agriculture sector experienced growth, expanding by 2.10% compared to the same period in 2022.
Meanwhile, the industry sector recorded a notable improvement, growing by 3.86%, a stark contrast to the -0.94% contraction observed in the fourth quarter of 2022.
On an annual basis, Nigeria’s GDP expanded by 2.74% in 2023 compared to 3.10% in the previous year, reflecting sustained but moderated growth.
The positive trajectory in GDP growth reflects resilience in the face of various economic challenges.
However, sustaining and accelerating growth will require continued efforts to address structural bottlenecks, foster investment, and promote inclusive economic policies across sectors.
Nigeria’s Oil Sector Growth
During the fourth quarter of 2023, Nigeria’s oil sector posted a real growth rate of 12.11% year-on-year, signifying a significant improvement from previous periods.
This was driven by the surge in average daily oil production to 1.55 million barrels per day (mbpd), a positive shift in the sector’s performance.
Despite challenges such as global market fluctuations and production constraints, the oil sector contributed 4.70% to the nation’s total real GDP in Q4 2023.
Nigeria’s Non-Oil Sector
Nigeria’s non-oil sector sustained growth momentum, posting a 3.07% real growth rate in Q4 2023.
This growth was primarily attributed to key industries including finance, telecommunications, agriculture, manufacturing, and construction.
Accounting for 95.30% of the nation’s GDP in the same quarter, the non-oil sector continues to drive economic diversification efforts and reduce dependence on oil revenues.
Despite facing challenges, such as infrastructure deficits and regulatory bottlenecks, the sector’s resilience underscores its pivotal role in fostering sustainable economic development and inclusive growth agendas.
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