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FG to Review Power Sector Privatisation

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Electricity - Investors King
  • FG to Review Power Sector Privatisation

The federal government disclosed Thursday that it is considering a review of the power sector privatisation, commencing with the 11 electricity distribution companies (Discos) in the country.

The Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, unveiled government’s new thinking in Abuja at the question and answer session with journalists, which drew the curtains on the 23rd Nigeria Economic Summit (NES) organised by the Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG) in collaboration with the Ministry of Budget and National Planning.

Ahmed stated that the government and other stakeholders had come to the realisation that something critical needed to be done quickly in the power sector.

The review of the power sector privatisation, she stated, would commence with the Discos.

Ahmed said: “The power sector has been privatised but I’m sure every Nigerian can attest to the fact that the privatisation has not worked well, in the sense of what we sought to achieve in terms of power efficiency.

“It has not yet happened. We have now come to the point where government which is a stakeholder in the power sector and other stakeholders must come together and decide and cede some of their holdings to new investors that will inject new funding; investors that have the expertise to grow the power sector that will serve Nigerians.”

She continued: “It’s a process that is on-going, it involves negotiating with the existing owners and also with the government in deciding the right level of holdings that will go up for another round of sale.

“The privatisation has not worked out. We discovered that many of the companies are indebted to the banks, making it difficult for them to make fresh investments in their infrastructure.

“All stakeholders must come together to grow the sector, especially in discussing with the existing owners.”

The minister explained that before any new investment is made in the sector, the contentious issue of tariffs must also be discussed and agreed by all stakeholders in order to attract new investors.

Explaining the government’s thinking to attract fresh investments in the power sector, given the tariff quagmire, she said: “We said the power sector would be opened up to new investors. But it’s very clear that many won’t be convinced with the level of tariff.

“That’s a discussion that has to be held with the new investors. It’s very clear to us that the level of tariffs that we have now is not sustainable but where the tariffs will go will be the subject of negotiations between the government, the existing investors, the new investors and consumers.

“We will try to attain some optimal level that will make an impact on the tariff structure. The starting point will be the Discos.”

On the 2018 budget proposals, the minister said her ministry was ready to meet the October deadline it announced earlier for its submission to the National Assembly.

“The 2018 budget will be presented to the National Assembly in October and we are still on course. The budget is ready, it will be going to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) first of all for approval before Mr. President now conveys it to the National Assembly.

“We are on course to deliver the 2018 budget in October. We hope that working together with the National Assembly, the 2018 budget will be passed on time in December so that in January, we can start with a fresh budget going forward,” the minister said.

On the federal government’s domestic borrowings which is crowding out the private sector, the minister said government had reviewed its loan strategies.

“Government does not go to borrow at 20 per cent. The market actually determines the borrowing, but the point we are making is that because government is borrowing heavily, the financial sector is now concentrating on lending to the government and the private sector gets little or no attention at all.

“Why would the financial sector want to lend when they can buy Treasury Bills at 22 per cent? So we have come to the conclusion that government must reduce its domestic borrowing to free the space so that the financial sector is enabled to borrow to the private sector,” she explained.

On the NES as a platform for the exchange of ideas on the economy between the private and public sectors, she said recommendations arising from the summit would continue to form the nucleus of government’s policies.

“The NES has become a tradition; an institution, if you like, and every year we look forward to it. This is a summit that is undertaken in partnership with the NESG, the Ministry of Budget and National Planning, and indeed the government,” she said.

This year’s summit with the theme: “Opportunities, Productivity & Employment – Actualising the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan,” the minister noted had intense deliberations for three days.

“We had discussions that centred around strengthening skills and competency, access to finance; we also had discussions around the legislation required to unlock opportunities to grow the economy,” she said.

She added that at the end of it, “we have a summit report, a draft of which has been handed over to us today to government”.

“We will begin to work again in partnership with the NESG and its organised committees on how to address all of the various recommendations that have come out of this session,” she explained.

Responding to a question on the chaotic traffic situation in Apapa, Lagos, the minister said the reconstruction of very critical roads in the port city had been approved.

She stated that the level of degeneration of the roads in Apapa had led to recommendations for total reconstruction, noting that the federal government was determined to do so.

On what the government was doing to ensure optimal performance of the ministers, she said a monthly performance chart with set targets had been prepared by her ministry.

She said there would be consequences for failure to meet set targets.

Also speaking at the event, Mr. Nnanna Ude of the National Assembly Business Environment Roundtable (NASSBER) described the consensus reached at NES 2017 as fruitful, calling for quick legislative actions on them.

He said: “There are pending bills and we always try to carry out the economic impact on them. For instance, the Competition Bill has the capacity to create 381,000 jobs annually, generate revenue of N148.3 billion yearly.

“It will also lead to a 10 per cent reduction in the prices of goods. For the National Transportation Commission Bill, it will also boost job creation and government revenue.”

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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CBN’s Monetary Policy Raises Concerns Over Nigeria’s Q2 Growth

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Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)

Nigeria’s economic outlook for the second quarter of 2024 is clouded with uncertainty as economists and analysts express concerns over the impact of the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) aggressive monetary policy.

Following a series of interest rate hikes aimed at curbing inflation, there are growing fears that these measures could stifle economic growth in Africa’s most populous nation.

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) reported that Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 2.98 percent in real terms in the first quarter of 2024, up from 2.3 percent in the same period of 2023.

However, this growth represents a slowdown from the 3.46 percent recorded in the fourth quarter of 2023.

The outlook for the second quarter is less optimistic with predictions of slower growth due to the CBN’s tightening measures.

“The year-on-year growth makes sense given that in the first quarter of last year, we were affected by the uncertainty about currency replacement, fuel queues, and elections,” said Ayo Teriba, CEO of Economist Associates.

“However, the tightening measures by the CBN that started in February are likely to take their toll in Q2 and subsequent quarters.”

Last week, the CBN raised its monetary policy rate by 150 basis points to 26.25 percent, marking the third consecutive hike.

This brings the total increase since February to 750 basis points, a move designed to combat inflation and defend the naira.

Analysts at FBN Quest warned that these rate hikes could slow economic growth and reduce consumer spending.

“Ultimately, the impact on the general economy could be a potential slowdown in economic growth, with consumer spending suppressed, and a decrease in business investments,” FBN Quest stated in a recent note.

The NBS report also highlighted that the services sector was the primary driver of GDP growth in the first quarter, recording a 4.32 percent increase and contributing 58.04 percent to the aggregate GDP.

The agriculture sector grew by 0.18 percent, a modest improvement from the -0.90 percent recorded in Q1 2023.

Meanwhile, the industry sector grew by 2.19 percent, up from 0.31 percent in the first quarter of 2023.

Ikemesit Effiong, head of research and partner at SBM Intelligence, noted that services have significant exposure to monetary policy effects.

“Since growth was largely powered by services, I would expect some slow growth in Q2. But I don’t think the slowdown might be actually significant. It might just be around 2.4-2.5 percent.”

Analysts at Comercio Partners observed that the GDP growth rate has been slower yet steady, hovering around three percent from 2021 to 2023.

However, they warned that the CBN’s rate hikes could have a deleterious effect on growth.

“The central bank had hiked the MPR by a hefty 600 basis points to 24.75 percent to curb inflation in March. Despite these efforts, inflation has been stubbornly high, hitting a record 33.69 percent in April, eroding consumer purchasing power. The increased interest rate has also raised the cost of borrowing for real sectors, stifling economic growth,” Comercio Partners noted.

President Bola Tinubu’s recent economic reforms, including the removal of a costly petrol subsidy and the lifting of currency controls, have exacerbated inflationary pressures, further complicating the economic landscape.

The naira has suffered a near 30 percent devaluation this year, following a 40 percent devaluation last June. Rising inflation has weakened consumer purchasing power, while businesses grapple with higher operating costs.

Muda Yusuf, CEO of the Centre for Promotion of Private Enterprises, highlighted the importance of oil output in sustaining growth.

“We might see positive growth in Q2 if the improvement in oil production is sustained and the CBN is able to reduce volatility in the forex market because it is affecting confidence and fueling speculation,” he said.

Joseph Nnanna, Chief Economist at the Development Bank of Nigeria, cautioned that the latest rate hike could impede real sector growth and hinder GDP growth this year.

“The 150bps rate hike is pernicious to the real economy as households and MSMEs will feel the impact immediately,” Nnanna said.

“However, the rate hike has a signalling effect on the fiscal authorities. They need to improve fiscal discipline and prioritize spending to improve growth.”

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Bank of Ghana Set to Maintain Interest Rate at 29% Amidst Inflation Concerns

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Ghana one cedi - Investors King

The Bank of Ghana is anticipated to keep its benchmark interest rate steady at 29% to curb soaring inflation and stabilize the nation’s currency, the cedi.

This decision comes as Governor Ernest Addison prepares to announce the monetary policy committee’s (MPC) verdict later today in Accra.

According to a survey conducted by Bloomberg, most economists expect the MPC to maintain the current rate in an effort to control inflation, which has averaged around 25%, and to support the struggling cedi.

The Ghanaian currency has depreciated by approximately 10% against the US dollar since the MPC’s last decision to keep borrowing costs unchanged in March, marking it as the worst-performing currency globally over this period.

“I expect the Bank of Ghana to keep the policy rate on hold in May in order to bolster the cedi and prevent higher import prices from keeping inflation at the currently elevated level,” stated Mark Bohlund, a senior credit research analyst at REDD Intelligence.

The cedi’s decline has been significantly impacted by a sharp drop in cocoa earnings, with revenue from cocoa exports falling by 49% to $599 million in the first four months of this year.

Ghana, the world’s second-largest producer of cocoa, has faced adverse weather conditions, disease, and a fertilizer shortage, all contributing to decreased output.

In an effort to manage its economic challenges, Ghana is reorganizing most of its $42.2 billion debt as part of conditions for a $3 billion program from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Last Thursday, the nation received a draft agreement to restructure debts with its official creditors, a necessary step to secure a $360 million disbursement from the IMF expected by the end of June.

Economists like Bohlund and Courage Boti, of Accra-based GCB Capital Ltd., suggest that the MPC might be in a position to consider cutting rates at its July meeting.

They anticipate that the currency could start to recover with the forthcoming IMF disbursement, and the favorable base effects could lead to a sharp slowdown in inflation.

“The more appropriate time to look at a rate cut will probably be July, by which time the currency pressures would have eased and its full impact assessed,” said Boti.

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Agricultural Sector’s Contribution to GDP Decreases in Q1 2024

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Agriculture - Investors King

Nigeria’s agricultural sector declined in its contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), according to recent data released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

The sector, which encompasses crop production, livestock, forestry, and fishing, experienced a decrease in its nominal growth rate compared to the same period in 2023.

The data reveals that the agricultural sector grew by 0.77% year-on-year in nominal terms in Q1 2024, a decrease of 4.47% points from the corresponding quarter of the previous year.

This decline is significant, especially when compared to the growth rate of 14.94% recorded in the preceding quarter, showcasing a downturn of 14.17% points.

Crop production emerged as the primary driver of the sector, constituting 87.98% of the overall nominal value of the sector in Q1 2024.

However, despite its dominance, the sector’s contribution to nominal GDP stood at 17.22%, reflecting a decrease from the rates recorded in both the first quarter and fourth quarter of 2023, which were 19.63% and 24.65%, respectively.

In real terms, the agricultural sector experienced a modest growth rate of 0.18% year-on-year in Q1 2024, indicating an increase of 1.08% points from the same period in 2023.

Nevertheless, this growth rate represents a decline of 1.92% points from the preceding quarter, which recorded a growth rate of 2.10%. On a quarter-on-quarter basis, the sector’s growth rate stood at -32.25% in the first quarter of 2024.

Despite these challenges, the agricultural sector remains a vital component of Nigeria’s economy, contributing significantly to employment, food security, and overall economic development.

As the nation navigates through economic fluctuations, policymakers and stakeholders may need to explore strategies to revitalize and strengthen the agricultural sector to ensure its sustained growth and resilience in the face of future uncertainties.

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