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EU Advises Nigeria to Devalue Naira

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Naira - Investors King
  • EU Advises Nigeria to Devalue Naira

A European Union (EU) official, Fillippo Amato, has advised the federal government to devalue the naira as part of measures to tackle the economic recession.

Amato, Counsellor, Head of Trade and Economics Section of EU, made this known in an interview with journalists yesterday. The EU official, according to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), said recession could not be addressed with traditional development tools.

He added the recession was a recent development which was due to a number of factors, including the fall in oil prices and resurgence of militancy in the Niger Delta.

“To come out of recession, the country has to take brave decisions, regardless of how unpopular they may be such as fully and effectively devaluing the naira.

“Devaluing the naira is a measure, which will finally reassure investors and attract new capitals to the country.

“At the same time, it will further reduce imports, thereby removing artificial forex restrictions, and removing any potential waste of scarce resources such as the fuel subsidy.

“Improving security (in the North-east and Niger-Delta) and ease of doing business are also key factors on which the government must urgently work to re-launch the economy,’’ he said.

Amato said that EU had been at the forefront of aid for trade support activities in Nigeria and ECOWAS.

He said the most important programme the EU was implementing in Nigeria with its partners – GIZ, DFID/Adam Smith International and UNIDO – was the Nigeria competitiveness Support Programme.

“The programme aims at improving the quality of Nigeria products to comply with international standards.

“The programme is providing capacity building to several Ministries, Departments and Agencies such as Ministry of Agriculture, Standards Organisation of Nigeria, Consumer Protection Council, Nigerian Customs Services and NADFAC.

“We support the trade institutions in the formulation and implementation of a sound trade policy (support to the Federal Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, and Nigerian Customs Service).

“This is to improve the business environment, with pilot projects in Kano and Kaduna to improve the procedures for obtaining land titles, and business licences,’’ he said.

He said Nigeria also needed to take advantage of the devaluation of its currency by diversifying its sources of foreign exchange revenue and this mainly through boosting its non-oil exports.

Amato said EU would increase its support for the country under the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) if ratified.

“EPA aims at boosting industrialisation and sustainable development of West Africa, both through improved (predictable, transparent and long-term) trade relations and through a development cooperation component.

“In addition, on September 14, the EU has launched a European External Investment Plan which will further support private sector investments in the African continent, including Nigeria.

“The plan will support investments in the continent by providing targeted guarantees and ameliorating the investment climate and the overall policy environment in partner countries. “The plan will be implemented through the new European Fund for Sustainable Development, with EU funds totalling 3.35 billion Euros until 2020.

“The EU Funds are expected to mobilise up to 44 billion Euros additional investments,’’ the official said.

He, however, advised Nigeria to take into consideration all the opportunities the EPA would offer to Nigeria and communicate them to all interested stakeholders.

“The role of the government is also to reassure all stakeholders that there is no reason to be worried in the course of implementation of the EPA.

“The government will use all instruments offered by the EPA to ensure it will achieve its objective to promote industrialisation and development of Nigeria and West Africa.

“The EU will do its part to ensure these objectives are achieved,” he said.

According to him, in a globalised world no country or regional community can ignore the destiny of its neighbours.

“The EU, in particular, due to its historic ties and geographic proximity to West Africa, has a strong interest in promoting and supporting West Africa’s development, well-being, prosperity and stability.’’

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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Economy

AfCFTA: Nigeria-South Africa Chamber Advocate Single Africa Passport, Free Visa

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African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)- Investors King

The Nigeria-South Africa Chamber of Commerce (NSACC) has called for a single Africa passport and a free visa to ensure the success of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.

Speaking on Thursday in Lagos during the chamber’s September Breakfast Forum, with the theme: `Perspectives on the Africa Continental Free Trade Area in Relation to Nigeria’, its President, Mr. Osayande Giwa-Osagie noted that AfCFTA would boost intra-African trade by 22 percent, adding that its implementation would impact positively on the Nigerian economy.

AfCFTA is a single continental market that adopts free flow of goods, services, and capital, supported by the free movement of persons across Africa.

Giwa-Osagie however said Nigeria must diversify its economy in order to harness the gains of the agreement.

“Current intra-African trade rated at 15 to 17 percent is low and the AfCFTA is expected to boost intra-African by 22 percent. Challenges to its implementation are lack of infrastructure, political instability and lack of economic diversification.

“This gives rise to the need for Nigeria to diversify its economy to harness the gains of the agreement. Given the importance of the free movement of people, there is a need for a free visa for Africa and a single Africa passport.

“While the implementation would help boost the Nigerian economy, the impact would be limited if there are no free movement of people,” he said.

Mr Jesuseun Fatoyinbo, Head, Trade and Transactional Services, Stanbic IBTC Bank, said the business community needed more clarification on tariff reduction or elimination under the agreement.

According to him, the little information available to corporate organisations with regards to tariffs may lead to holding back on investments.

“We have noted increased interests from global multinationals and other corporates in setting up facilities in Africa aimed at serving the continent and exporting abroad.

“So more transparency around tariff reductions both in terms of timelines and details of goods could prompt companies to act,” he said.

Fatoyinbo also called for more attention to the digitisation of trade processes across the continent. “Currently, trade in Africa is largely reliant on physical documentation and this is a major impediment. Policymakers need to prioritize regulatory amendments that allow for the digital signatures, a digital certificate of origin, digital bills of lading, and other documentation,” he added.

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Nigeria Borrows $4 Billion Through Eurobonds as Order Book Peaked at $12.2 Billion

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The Federal Government of Nigeria has raised a fresh $4 billion through Eurobonds, according to the latest statement from the Debt Management Office (DMO).

Nigeria had set out to raise $3 billion but investors oversubscription peaked at $12.2 billion, enabling the Federal Government to raise $1 billion more than the $3 billion it announced.

DMO said “This exceptional performance has been described as, “one of the biggest financial trades to come out of Africa in 2021” and “an excellent outcome”.

Bids were received from investors in Europe, America, Asia and several local investors. The statement noted that the quality of investors and the size of the Order Book demonstrated confidence in Nigeria.

The Eurobonds were issued in three tranches, details, namely seven years–,$1.25 billion at 6.125 per cent per annum; 12 years -$1.5 billion at 7.375 per cent per annum as well as 30 years -$1.25 billion at 8.25 per annum.

The DMO explained that the long tenors of the Eurobonds and the spread across different maturities are well aligned with Nigeria’s Debt Management Strategy, 2020 –2023.

The Eurobonds were issued as part of the New External Borrowing stipulated in the 2021 Appropriation Act. DMO noted that the $4 billion will help finance projects state in the 2021 budget.

Nigeria’s total debt stood at $87.239 billion as at March 31, 2021. However, with the $4 billion new borrowing, the nation’s debt is now $91.239 billion. A serious concern for most Nigerians given the nation’s weak foreign revenue generation and rising cost of servicing the debt.

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CIBN Banking and Finance Conference 2021: Structural Transformation and Growth

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Coronation Merchant Bank - Investors King

Today we highlight one of the sessions, ‘Economic Recovery’, at the recently concluded CIBN Banking and Finance conference. This was a hybrid event in Abuja, Lagos and partially virtual last week. The Covid-19 disruptions have created demand and supply shocks in the global system while unlocking new opportunities for growth.

Given the pre-existing financing challenges and growing spending needs, many developing countries are in dire need of financial support. As a result of the pandemic, the financing gap for the sustainable development goals increased by 70% (over USD4.2bn). The speaker on this session, Amina J. Mohammed, Deputy SecretaryGeneral of the United Nations and Chair of the United Nations Sustainable Development Group focused on structural transformation, technology, finance and sustainability.

Recent developments such as the allocation of the USD650bn in Special Drawing Rights (SDR) were highlighted during the session. Although the SDR offers improved liquidity into the system, Africa is set to receive only USD32.2bn (or 6.4% of the total amount). Therefore, it is important that the funds are channeled towards well-targeted sectors that can contribute to sustainable development.

The banking and finance sector plays a crucial role. The Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA) agreement offers an opportunity for the financial sector to work within a continental market of 1.2 billion people. According to Amina J. Mohammed, three main actions areas will reshape the financial sector and support stronger recovery.

The first, better customer engagement with a dynamic range of relevant products and services that go beyond bank-based financing mechanisms and offer innovative financial products tailored to specific needs of business ecosystems. Second, the adoption of new operating models to drive efficiency and inclusion. Third, a deliberate focus on enabling sustainable development investing.

Furthermore, Nigeria’s banking and finance industry is well positioned to drive specific UN sustainable development goals such as inclusive and affordable credit, especially for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises. The industry can also provide support towards climate change.

Technology also featured in the discussion points. Undoubtedly, technology is a catalyst for growth across economies and the pandemic has further exposed the deficit within the sector across developing countries. Investments in digital infrastructure need to be rapidly expanded and scaled up to boost socio-economic development.

The speaker commended the FGN’s efforts on its push towards sustainable economic recovery. Some policy and regulatory reforms highlighted include, regulation of fintechs and related services to strengthen payment systems and regulate data protection; the green bonds which Nigeria first issued in 2017 in support of green projects, including solar energy and the modernisation of the Nigerian stock exchange that has given rise to a new operational structure and leadership.

These are laudable steps. However, we note that there is still room for improvement. To achieve double-digit GDP growth and sustainable development, structural transformation should remain on the FGN’s priority list.

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