Project Eagle: Nigeria Used Oil as Collateral to Borrow $1.5bn Loan from Traders
The Federal Government through the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has signed a $1.5 billion prepayment loan deal led by Standard Chartered and backed by Vitol Group and Matrix Energy, two oil traders.
According to Reuters, the deal will provide Nigeria with necessary cash to mitigate some of the negative impacts of COVID-19 on the economy and further productivity in Africa’s largest economy.
The deal, according to Reuters’ sources, is called Project Eagle and also backed by the African Export Import Bank and the United Bank for Africa.
Vitol Group and Matrix Energy will each be taking 15,000 barrels of crude oil per day as repayment for the next five years. This was confirmed by Matrix Energy, a Nigerian owned energy company.
Prepayments with traders are widely used in commodity finance as banks consider them to be one of the more secure forms of lending in countries viewed as risky.
Nigeria continues to seek alternative to its weak foreign revenue and dwindling foreign reserves following over 60 percent fall in global oil prices due to COVID-19 pandemic.
However, experts have said rising debt amid weak revenue generation will continue to hurt the nation’s ability to grow and recover from COVID-19. The nation’s debt service to revenue ratio stood at 99 percent as at the end of June 2020, according to the Debt Management Office.
Last week, the International Monetary Fund said Nigeria should focus on improving tax collection efficiency so it can simultaneously service its debt and grow the economy.
Nigeria’s Rigid Forex Policy Discouraging Investors, Fueling Inflation – World Bank
The World Bank has blamed the Central Bank of Nigeria’s rigid forex policy for the drop in Nigeria’s capital importation and rising inflation rate.
The bank disclosed in its November report, Nigeria Development Update.
Explaining modalities for its position, the World Bank stated that there had been constant pressure on the Nigerian Naira with the current forex policy, forcing the central bank to consistently increase its nominal official exchange rate in an effort to ease some of the pressure.
This, it blamed on the rigid foreign exchange management system of the Central Bank of Nigeria, saying the system has also been responsible for the rising inflation rate in Nigeria.
The report read in part, “The government’s exchange rate management policies continue to discourage investment and fuel inflation. Exchange rate stability is a key CBN policy objective, and to preserve its external reserves the CBN continues to manage FX demand and limit the supply of FX to the market.
“Pressure on the naira remains intense, and while the CBN has raised the nominal official exchange rate three times since the start of the pandemic (by 15 per cent in March 2020, five per cent in August 2020, and seven per cent in May 2021), FX management remains too rigid to respond to external shocks. Meanwhile, exchange-rate management has emerged as one of the key drivers of inflation.”
The World Bank further stated that the central bank foreign exchange system needs to be more flexible to withstand external shocks, especially given Nigeria’s mono-product nature. It added that the NAFEX rate does not reflect the true market rate but the central bank managed rate.
It read in part, “While the CBN supplied an average of $2.5bn to the Investors and Exporters forex window in the months just prior to the COVID-19 crisis, it only supplied an average of $0.5bn in the months thereafter.
“The NAFEX rate, which is now the guiding exchange rate for the economy, continues to be managed and is not fully reflective of market conditions. The parallel market premium over the NAFEX rate reached 29 per cent in August 2021 after the CBN cut off its weekly supply of $20,000 per bureau de change. The CBN has intermittently supplied forex to BDCs since 2005, providing ample opportunities for currency round-tripping.”
The institution however advised that Nigeria adopt a more predictable, transparent and flexible foreign exchange management system in order to attract and sustain private investment flows.
Nigeria’s Non-oil Revenue Now N1.15 Trillion – Minister of Finance
Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, has said that Nigeria’s non-oil revenue is now N1.15 trillion, representing 15.7 percent above the country’s target. This, she claimed, was a result of the federal government’s efforts at diversifying the nation’s economy.
Mrs. Ahmed disclosed this at the Institute of Directors (IoD) 2021 Annual Directors Conference which was held on Wednesday in Abuja.
According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) the event with the theme: “Creating the Future: Deepening the Corporate Governance Practice through Multi-Sectoral and Multi-Generational Collaborations,” was meant to discuss economic development.
Mrs Ahmed added that the recent development was in line with President’s commitment to further diversifying the Nigerian economy which is heavily dependent on oil. She observed that Nigeria was showing resilience in recovery from recession from coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic which intensely affected global economies.
The minister said the federal government alongside the private sector had implemented a wide range of monetary measures to stimulate economic recovery, growth and development, job creation and improved standards of living.
She also explained that the government was doing everything to improve and diversify Nigeria’s revenue generation.
“Nigeria was quickly able to exit recession and is on her way to path of sustainable growth and we are intensifying efforts to grow and diversify our revenue sources to grow revenue from the current 8 per cent.”
“Our non-oil revenues have grown to N1.15 trillion, representing 15.7 per cent above set target. We are working on the 2021 finance bill and it’s nearing completion. Also, the recent approval of the medium-term national development plan is an important milestone of Buhari’s commitment to delivering sustainable growth and we require strong support and monitoring during implementation,” she said.
Mrs Ahmed reinforced the government’s decision to do something about infrastructure and reduce the cost of production for businesses in the country.
Intra-Regional Trade Potential a Key Focus in New Report
A new focus report, produced by Oxford Business Group (OBG) in partnership with the African Economic Zones Organisation (AEZO), shines a spotlight on the continent’s rapidly developing industrial sector, which is poised to become a key driver of broader economic growth as regional integration increases.
Titled ”Economic Zones in Africa – Focus Report”, the report was launched at the AEZO’s 6th Annual Meeting II, which took place on November 25 at the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat office in Ghana, with participants also able to attend remotely. The meeting was held under the banner “Connecting African Special Economic Zones (SEZs) to Global Value Chains at the era of the AfCFTA” and explored a range of topical issues relating to SEZs, from their potential to boost trade to the impact of Covid-19 on the continent’s supply chains.
The focus report examines the wealth of benefits that the AfCFTA is expected to deliver to both Africa’s economic zones and the businesses located in them, which range from greater market access to a reduction in trade barriers and lower production costs.
The disruption that the pandemic brought to supply chains and the opportunities emerging from the health crisis for businesses to become part of nascent regional value chains across a more closely connected continent are a key focus.
The report also charts the digital transformation taking place in many of Africa’s economic zones, as businesses make the move away from traditional segments to high-tech processes and digital services, adding value to their offerings in the process.
In addition, it provides in-depth analysis of the drive evident among many SEZs to put environmental, social and governance principles and sustainable business practices at the heart of their strategies, at a time when ethical investment and alignment with the UN Sustainable Development Goals are high on the global agenda.
The report includes in-depth case studies and viewpoints by representatives from key industry players namely: Tanger Med; Polaris Parks; Lagos Free Zones; Ghana Free Zones Authority; Misurata Free Zone; and Sebore Farms.
It also includes a contribution from Ahmed Bennis, Secretary General, AEZO, in which he highlights the role that SEZs are playing in the continent’s industrial transformation and the importance of supporting their development.
“Economic zones can play a game-changing role in Africa’s diversification and inclusion by providing end-to-end solutions and services that support industrial upgrades and increase countries’ attractiveness for investment,” he said. “With the implementation of AfCFTA and the post-Covid-19 recovery that the world is beginning to experience, we believe that real investment opportunities exist in Africa at this moment, which can translate into job creation and social and economic development. Africa has resources that need to be developed and economic zones can play a key role in this.”
Bernardo Bruzzone, OBG’s Regional Editor for Africa, added that while African economic zones had experienced production problems during the pandemic due to global supply chain disruptions, ongoing remedial action, including new infrastructure and human capital development, would help provide resilience against future external shocks.
“Africa’s real GDP growth is forecast to reach 3.4% in 2021, with an increase in intra-regional trade and improved connectivity among the facilitators of economic recovery,” Bruzzone said. “Looking ahead, we see economic zones as having a key role to play in helping the AfCFTA achieve its potential through the development of new strategies that will lead to a more diverse, higher-value range of exports.”
The study forms part of a series of tailored reports that OBG is currently producing with its partners, alongside other highly relevant, go-to research tools, including a range of country-specific Growth and Recovery Outlook articles and interviews.
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