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France, Nigeria to Build New Partnership

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France is currently aiming at building a new partnership with Nigeria, with the dispatching of its Minister in charge of Foreign Trade and Attractiveness, Franck Riester, to Nigeria.

Riester, who was expected at the time of filing this report on Monday, is scheduled to visit Nigeria from 12-14 April, 2021.

A statement from the French Embassy in Nigeria said: “Franck Riester is visiting Nigeria from 12 to 14 April, a visit that follows up on the priorities set by French President Emmanuel Macron during his official visit to Nigeria in July 2018 and his desire to build a new partnership between Africa and France.

“As the largest economy in Africa and the economic engine of West Africa, Nigeria is indeed a major partner for France, the first in sub-Saharan Africa with bilateral trade amounting to a total of 4.5 billion USD in 2019 (2.3 billion USD in 2020, due to the Covid-19 pandemic).”

It disclosed that the minister will have several official meetings in Abuja and Lagos, in order to underline the importance of the bilateral economic relationship and to prepare the summit on the financing of African economies in Paris on 18 May.

It revealed that the objective of the mission is also to further strengthen the links between the French and Nigerian private sectors, and “in this regard, the minister will have in-depth discussions with the main Nigerian economic actors to strengthen bilateral cooperation and investments, both in Nigeria and in France, particularly in the logistics sector”.

It said while in the country, the minister would meet with young Nigerian entrepreneurs in the cultural and creative industries sector, to discuss the major role of their country in African creativity and the development of the African entrepreneurial ecosystem, with the support of France.

It further said: “The minister will also open the ‘Choose Africa’ conference, a €3.5 billion initiative by President Emmanuel Macron dedicated to supporting the development of start-ups and SMEs in Africa to enable the continent to benefit fully from the opportunities of the digital revolution.”

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Economy

IMF Report: Nigeria’s Inflation to Dip to 26.3% in 2024, Growth Expected at 3.3%

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IMF global - Investors King

Nigeria’s economic outlook for 2024 appears cautiously optimistic with projections indicating a potential decrease in the country’s inflation rate alongside moderate economic growth.

The IMF’s revised Global Economic Outlook for 2024 highlights key forecasts for Nigeria’s economic landscape and gave insights into both inflationary trends and GDP expansion.

According to the IMF report, Nigeria’s inflation rate is projected to decline to 26.3% by the end of 2024.

This projection aligns with expectations of a gradual easing of inflationary pressures within the country, although challenges such as fuel subsidy removal and exchange rate fluctuations continue to pose significant hurdles to price stability.

In tandem with the inflation forecast, the IMF also predicts a modest economic growth rate of 3.3% for Nigeria in 2024.

This growth projection reflects a cautious optimism regarding the country’s economic recovery and resilience in the face of various internal and external challenges.

Despite the ongoing efforts to stabilize the foreign exchange market and address macroeconomic imbalances, the IMF underscores the need for continued policy reforms and prudent fiscal management to sustain growth momentum.

The IMF report provides valuable insights into Nigeria’s economic trajectory, offering policymakers, investors, and stakeholders a comprehensive understanding of the country’s macroeconomic dynamics.

While the projected decline in inflation and modest growth outlook offer reasons for cautious optimism, it remains essential for Nigerian authorities to remain vigilant and proactive in addressing underlying structural vulnerabilities and promoting inclusive economic development.

As the country navigates through a challenging economic landscape, concerted efforts towards policy coordination, investment promotion, and structural reforms will be crucial in unlocking Nigeria’s full growth potential and fostering long-term prosperity.

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South Africa’s March Inflation Hits Two-Month Low Amid Economic Uncertainty

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South Africa's economy - Investors King

South Africa’s inflation rate declined to a two-month low, according to data released by Statistics South Africa.

Consumer prices rose by 5.3% year-on-year, down from 5.6% in February. While this decline may initially suggest a positive trend, analysts caution against premature optimism due to various economic factors at play.

The weakening of the South African rand against the dollar, coupled with drought conditions affecting staple crops like white corn and geopolitical tensions in the Middle East leading to rising oil prices, poses significant challenges.

These factors are expected to keep inflation relatively high and stubborn in the coming months, making policymakers hesitant to adjust borrowing costs.

Lesetja Kganyago, Governor of the South African Reserve Bank, reiterated the bank’s cautious stance on inflation pressures.

Despite the recent easing, inflation has consistently remained above the midpoint of the central bank’s target range of 3-6% since May 2021. Consequently, the bank has maintained the benchmark interest rate at 8.25% for nearly a year, aiming to anchor inflation expectations.

While some traders speculate on potential interest rate hikes, forward-rate agreements indicate a low likelihood of such a move at the upcoming monetary policy committee meeting.

The yield on 10-year bonds also saw a marginal decline following the release of the inflation data.

March’s inflation decline was mainly attributed to lower prices in miscellaneous goods and services, education, health, and housing and utilities.

However, core inflation, which excludes volatile food and energy costs, remained relatively steady at 4.9%.

Overall, South Africa’s inflation trajectory underscores the delicate balance between economic recovery and inflation containment amid ongoing global uncertainties.

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Discontent Among Electricity Consumers as Band A Prioritization Leads to Supply Shortages

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In Nigeria, discontent among electricity consumers is brewing as Band A prioritization by distribution companies (DisCos) exacerbates supply shortages for consumers in lower tariff bands.

The move follows the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission’s (NERC) decision to increase tariffs for customers in Band A, prompting DisCos to focus on meeting the needs of Band A customers to avoid sanctions.

Band A customers, who typically receive 20 to 24 hours of electricity supply daily, are now benefiting at the expense of consumers in Bands C, D, and E, who experience significant reductions in power supply.

The situation has ignited frustration among these consumers, who feel marginalized and neglected by DisCos.

Daily Trust investigations reveal that many consumers in lower tariff bands are experiencing prolonged power outages, despite their expectations of a minimum supply duration.

Residents like Christy Emmanuel from Lugbe, Abuja, and Damilola Akanbi from Life Camp are lamenting receiving less than the promised hours of electricity, rendering it ineffective for their daily needs.

Adding to the challenge is the low electricity generation, forcing DisCos to ration power across the grid.

As of recent records, only 3,265 megawatts were available, leading to further difficulties in meeting the demands of all consumers.

The prioritization of Band A customers has been confirmed by officials from DisCos, citing directives from the government to avoid sanctions from NERC.

An anonymous official from the Kaduna Electricity Distribution Company highlighted the pressure from the government to ensure Band A customers receive the required supply, even if it means neglecting other bands.

Meanwhile, the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) has denied reports blaming it for power shortages to Band A customers. General Manager Ndidi Mbah clarified that recent outages were due to technical faults and adverse weather conditions, outside of TCN’s control.

Experts have criticized the DisCos’ prioritization strategy, arguing that it neglects the needs of consumers in lower tariff bands. Bode Fadipe, CEO of Sage Consulting & Communications, emphasized that DisCos cannot ignore the financial contributions from these bands, which sustain the sector.

Chinedu Amah, founder of Spark Nigeria, urged for optimized supply across all bands, emphasizing the importance of improving service levels for all consumers.

As discontent grows among electricity consumers, calls for fair distribution of power and equitable treatment from DisCos are gaining momentum.

The situation underscores the need for regulatory intervention to address the concerns of all stakeholders and ensure a balanced approach to electricity distribution in Nigeria

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