- Nigeria’s Economic Outlook for 2019
Nigeria’s economic outlook remains challenging in 2019 as investment inflows and revenue generation are projected to drop further in the new year.
The economy grew at 1.81 percent in the third quarter of 2018 after a 1.5 percent expansion in the second quarter but the unemployment rate rose to 23.1 percent from 18.8 percent recorded a year ago. A sign the economy is merely sustaining growth after recovering from the recession in 2017.
Despite growing for six consecutive quarters, new job creation is almost nonexisting and interest rate remained unchanged at 14 percent. Still, the manufacturing sector recorded growth for the 18th consecutive month without new jobs or substantial new entrants to broaden growth.
One of the key factors in measuring the healthiness of an economy, the stock exchange market, returned -15.39 percent in 2018 while the national foreign reserves dropped to $43 billion on weak capital importation.
Rising interest rates in developed economies will continue to hurt capital inflow into emerging markets like Nigeria in 2019, especially with the European Central Bank likely to raise rates in the new year after announcing an end to its asset-buying program.
Global Economy and Impacts in 2019
The trade war between the U.S and China, the two world’s largest economies, should slow down global growth in 2019 but as China continues to adjust its policy to accommodate U.S. demands for an open market, global growth should pick up and expand at about 3.5 percent in 2019, down from 3.7 percent in 2018.
While the four rate hikes in the United States, the two from the United Kingdom since the recession and Canada’s five times rate increase since summer of 2017 boosted capital outflows from Nigeria and other emerging economies in 2018. The trend is expected to continue in the first half of 2019 but into the Euro-area ahead of the European Central Bank rate increase.
Global oil market remains largely uncertain in 2019 due to the projected slow down in China’s economy, the world’s largest importer of crude oil. But with Saudi Arabia and Russia led OPEC+ recent accord to cut production by 1.2 million barrels a day, Brent crude may average $70 a barrel in the first half, however, that should fade in the second half of the year as U.S. producers sustain output at about 12 million barrels a day.
Nigeria’s Economy 2019
The labour market remained weak with low new job creation and shrinking existing jobs, the trend is expected to continue in 2019 and up until the second half of 2020 when new policies would have crystalised and interest rate lowered.
The Central Bank of Nigeria left interest rate unchanged at 14 percent, citing weak investment inflow and rising consumer prices. But with Dangote refinery scheduled to commence operation in 2020, the CBN would have more liquidity to stimulate growth and lower interest rates enough to support new jobs.
Therefore, the unemployment rate is projected to increase from the current 23.1 percent in 2018 to 25 percent by the third quarter of 2019 and start moderating by the second half of 2020.
Gross Domestic Product
OPEC+ production cuts and weak capital inflows will weigh on Nigeria’s economic productivity in 2019. Nigeria’s oil production is expected to be capped at 1.685 million barrels a day in 2019, this should reduce foreign revenue generation and impact Central Bank of Nigeria’s forex intervention program that has sustained economic activities in the last two years.
Despite crude oil production rising to 2.09 million barrels a day in 2018, growth remained lackluster with 20.9 million unemployed people and 43.3 percent national unemployment and underemployment rate. At a lower production level with a drop in investment inflow and high capital outflow, economic productivity is projected to slow down in the first half of 2019 and remained largely unchanged in the second half of the year when new administration would have been sworn-in.
Also, investment inflow and market sentiment are expected to start picking up by the second half of the year when implementation of the 2019 budget would have commenced.
However, analysts at Investors King Limited said: “The problem with the 2019 budget is that 71.34 percent of the 2019 budget will be spent on recurrent expenditure, 18 percent higher than 2018 budget. While non-oil revenue is expected to rise by just 0.1 percent in 2019.”
“In an economy that is likely to experience a drop in revenue in 2019 due to OPEC+ production cuts agreement, weak revenue generation amid huge capital expenditure that over the years has failed to stimulate new job creation and enhance economic productivity is the number one problem of the 2019 proposed budget.”
Nigeria-South Africa Trade Hits $2.9bn
The volume of trade between Nigeria and South Africa hit $2.9 billion last year with expectation of it rising further with the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.
Nigeria’s Consul General, Malik Abdul, in a statement noted that Nigeria accounts for 64 per cent of South Africa’s trade in West Africa and is one of his country’s top three sources of crude oil.
He further added that in 2020, South Africa imported R35 billion ($2.48 billion) worth of goods, predominantly crude oil from Nigeria and exported R6 billion ($425milion) to Nigeria.
He stated: “South Africa is currently among the top 10 per cent of investors in Nigeria, globally and Nigeria is South Africa’s 10th biggest export market in Africa and thirty-second globally. Nigeria accounts for 64 per cent of South Africa’s trade with West Africa and is one of South Africa’s top three sources of crude oil.
“Also, Nigeria in 2020 was South Africa’s top import market in Africa and sixth globally, after China, Germany, USA, India and Saudi Arabia. Over the past year, South Africa imported $2.48 billion worth of goods predominantly crude oil from Nigeria and exported $425 million worth to Nigeria.”
Also, the consulate said his embassy issued a total of 10,341 passports to Nigerian citizens in South Africa between March 2020 and May 2021.
The consul general further said the Mission had 404 unclaimed passports, and advised all those whose passports were processed and pending from August 2020 to come for collection.
Abdul added that the consulate was working to clear all COVID-19 lockdown backlog of applications, urging members of the public to exercise patience while the mission was resolving the backlogs.
On the re-introduction of administrative fees and charges for lost passports, Abdul said that the step was taken to harmonise and standardise consular services following approval from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Abuja.
The Mission had increased the fees for lost passports from R1,500 to R2,000, and admin charges of R120 for data capturing.
“On this issue, the Mission could not unilaterally impose any charges without headquarters’ approval or consent.
“The admin fees of R120 pertains to all services rendered by the two Missions,” he said.
According to the Nigerian envoy, the decision was taken to remove disparities in all consular services, noting that visa fees have also been harmonised.
On penalty for lost passports, Abdul disclosed that 484 Nigerian passports were reported missing at the mission between August 2020 and May 2021 with request for re-issue.
Abdul said it was discovered that there were criminal undertones and immigration rules infractions associated with the ‘so-called’ lost passport declarations.
“In line with practice in other Missions, there was a need to impose fines to deter people from engaging in such infractions.
“At such an astronomical rate of loss declarations, the option will be to refer such losses to Nigeria for processing.
“This will save the booklet for genuine requests of re-issue and thereby reducing the backlog and pressure on the Mission,” the envoy said.
Abdul disclosed that the consulate had received a directive to embargo processing of lost passports pending further instructions from the headquarters.
The consul general then accused some Nigerian groups in South Africa of, “peddling lies and outright falsehoods” against the Mission and his person.
“These disgruntled elements have gone ahead to incite fellow Nigerians with intent to sabotage the Mission.
“Moreover, a lie and falsehoods often repeated amounts to a propaganda which can be misinterpreted by the gullible and undiscerning as truth,” he said.
NNPC Engages Gas Producers to Improve Power Supply
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has started engaging gas producers across the country in an effort to boost gas supply to power generation companies (Gencos) and subsequently improve electricity supply.
Mr. Yusuf Usman, the Chief Operating Officer, Gas and Power, NNPC, disclosed this in Lagos during his tour of Egbin Power Plc facility on Monday.
Usman, who responded to concerns raised by the Chairman of Egbin Power Plc, Mr. Temitope Shonubi, said the company’s concern on gas supply and transmission restrictions had been noted, adding that the corporation would support it to ensure constant power supply.
“I have listened to all the concerns you raised. An area of concern to me is when you talked about the gas constraints. We are going to support you to make sure that the power supply is steady. We are having a session with gas suppliers in this regard.
“I am aware that works are ongoing in this regard to ensure that all the power we generate is safely evacuated,” Usman said.
Usman, however, said he was impressed by the level of progress being recorded by Egbin, noting that the effort of the company’s management to effect turnaround maintenance at the company through overhaul of the entire system, was commendable.
Usman added: “The visit has been an eye opener for me. We have seen turbines that have been running for over 40 years. We have seen efforts being made by Egbin management to effect a turnaround at the plant through overhaul of the entire system.
“We have also seen the support you have been given to the youths through employment and capacity development opportunities.”
Shonubi, in his remarks, said Egbin Power was planning to increase power generation by 1,900 megawatt.
Shonubi said: “Egbin has 1,320MW capacity. As at the time we took over, the plant was generating 300MW which is abysmal 22 per cent. As at today, our generation capacity has surged and we do 89 per cent.
“We have reached the highest peak of 970MW and we are working hard to ensure sustainability of this feat.
“The 970MW we hit is the highest recorded this year and based on our core value of sustainability, we are working round the clock to make sure that we sustain the gains, which we have made.”
Nigeria’s Inflation Rate Moderates to 17.93 Percent in May
Inflation in Africa’s largest economy, Nigeria, moderated from 18.12 percent year-on-year in April to 17.93 percent year-on-year in May, according to the latest report from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
On a monthly basis, headline inflation grew by 1.01 percent in May. Representing an increase of 0.04 percent when compared to 0.97 percent filed in April.
Core inflation, which excludes the prices of volatile agricultural
produce stood at 13.15 percent in May 2021, up by 0.41 percent when compared with 12.74 percent recorded in April 2021.
On month-on-month basis, the core sub-index increased by 1.24 percent in May 2021. This was up by 0.25 percent when compared with 0.99 percent recorded in April 2021.
The highest increases were recorded in prices of Pharmaceutical products, Garments, Shoes and other footwear, Hairdressing salons and personal grooming establishments, Furniture and furnishing, Carpet and other floor covering, Motor cars, Hospital services, Fuels and lubricants for personal transport equipments, Cleaning, repair and hire of clothing, Other services in respect of personal transport equipments, Gas, Household textile and Non durable household goods.
The average 12-month annual rate of change of the index was 11.50 percent for the twelve-month period ending May 2021; this is 0.25 percent points higher than 11.25 percent recorded in April 2021.
Food index rose by 22.28 percent in the month of May 2021, up by 0.06 percent points from 0.99 percent recorded in April 2021.
The average annual rate of change of the Food sub-index for the twelve-month period ending May 2021 over the previous twelve-month average was 19.18 percent, 0.60 percent points from the average annual rate of change recorded in April 2021 (18.58) percent.
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