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COVID-19 to Push 5m Nigerians Into Extreme Poverty -World Bank

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  • COVID-19 to Push 5m Nigerians Into Extreme Poverty -World Bank

The World Bank has said 5 million people will be pushed into extreme poverty in Nigeria in 2020.

In the bank’s latest report titled ‘The impact of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) on global poverty: Why Sub-Saharan Africa might be the region hardest hit’, the bank estimated that COVID-19 pandemic will push between 40 million to 60 million people into extreme poverty globally.

“Another way to put this is that the estimates suggest that COVID-19 will push 49 million people into extreme poverty in 2020,” the bank stated.

Despite the International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicting that emerging markets and developing economies will contract by 1 percent this year, the World Bank said with more people living close to the international poverty line, ‘the developing world, low- and middle-income countries will suffer the greatest consequences in terms of extreme poverty.’

It stated that while Sub-Saharan Africa has been less hit by the COVID-19 from a health perspective, the region will be hit the hardest in terms of increased extreme poverty.

It estimated that out of the 49 million extremely poor people predicted, 23 million will come from Sub-Saharan Africa alone while 16 million will be from South Asia.

The bank, however, listed India, Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo as the three nations that will experience the largest change in the number of extremely poor people.

“At the country-level, the three countries with the largest change in the number of poor are estimated to be India (12 million), Nigeria (5 million) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (2 million). Countries such as Indonesia, South Africa, and China are also forecasted to have more than one million people pushed into extreme poverty as a consequence of COVID-19,” the report reads.

“When looking at the impact of the pandemic on higher poverty lines, for example, the number of people living on less than $3.20 or $5.50 per day, more than 100 million people will be pushed into poverty. Latin America & Caribbean, East Asia & Pacific and the Middle East & North Africa are all expected to have at least 10 million more people living on less than $5.50 per day.”

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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