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IMF Warns Nigeria Could Lose $10 Billion in Foreign Investment due to Geopolitical Tensions

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The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has issued a warning that Nigeria could potentially lose an estimated $10 billion in foreign direct investment and official development assistance inflows due to geopolitical tensions.

The IMF’s country focus on Sub-Saharan Africa, which was released on Monday, stated that the figure represents around 0.5% of the nation’s annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

In the report, the Washington-based lender said, “The losses could be compounded if capital flows between trade blocs were cut-off because of geopolitical tensions. The region could lose an estimated $10 billion of foreign direct investments and official development assistance inflow is about half a percent of GDP a year based on an average 2017–19 estimate). The reduction in FDI, in the long run, could also hinder much-needed technology transfer.”

The IMF went on to say that if geopolitical tensions were to escalate, countries could be hit by higher import prices or even lose access to key export markets. It added that about half of Sub-Saharan Africa’s value of global trade could be impacted.

The Washington-based lender also said that Sub-Saharan Africa could stand to lose the most if the world split into two isolated trading blocs centered on China or the United States and the European Union. The IMF further stated that the region’s economy could experience a permanent decline of up to four percent of its gross domestic product after 10 years.

“Sub-Saharan Africa could stand to lose the most if the world were to split into two isolated trading blocs centered around China or the United States and the European Union. In this severe scenario, sub-Saharan African economies could experience a permanent decline of up to four per cent of the real Gross Domestic Product after 10 years. According to our estimates, these are losses larger than what most countries experienced during the global financial crisis.”

According to the IMF, economic and trade alliances with new economic partners, predominantly China, have benefited the region.

The report also stated that economic trade alliances have also made countries reliant on imports of food and energy more susceptible to global shocks, including disruptions from the surge in trade restrictions following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The IMF called for strengthening the African Continental Free Trade Area to better manage these shocks properly.

“To better manage shocks, countries need to build resilience. This can be done by strengthening the ongoing regional trade integration under the African Continental Free Trade Area, which will require reducing tariff and non-tariff trade barriers, strengthening efficiency in customs, leveraging digitalization, and closing the infrastructure gaps. Deepening domestic financial markets can also broaden sources of financing and lower the volatility associated with relying too much on foreign inflows. To take advantage of the potential shifts in trade and FDI flows, countries in the region can try to identify and nurture sectors that may benefit from trade diversion like energy. Commodity exporters in the region could potentially displace much of Russia’s energy market share in Europe.”

IMF advised countries in the region to rely on trade promotion agencies to help identify potential opportunities and build the necessary skills and capacity for exports.

“Countries can also rely on trade promotion agencies to help identify potential opportunities, build the necessary skills and capacity for exports, and eventually re-orient production to take advantage of new trade flows. Improving the business environment by lowering entry, regulatory, and tax barriers could also help. What the exact outcomes will be from fragmentation and polarization, and whether these trends will continue are uncertain. What is clear, however, are multilateral institutions will need to continue to facilitate dialogue among nations to promote economic integration and cooperation.”

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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South Africa’s Inflation Rate Holds Steady in May

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South Africa’s inflation rate remained unchanged in May, increasing the likelihood that the central bank will maintain current borrowing costs.

According to a statement released by Statistics South Africa on Wednesday, consumer prices rose by 5.2% year-on-year, the same rate as in April.

The consistent inflation rate is expected to influence the decision of the six-member monetary policy committee (MPC), which is set to meet in mid-July. The current benchmark rate stands at 8.25%, a 15-year high, and has been held steady for six consecutive meetings.

Central Bank Governor Lesetja Kganyago has repeatedly emphasized the need for inflation to fall firmly within the 3% to 6% target range before considering any reduction in borrowing costs.

“We will continue to deliver on our mandate, irrespective of how our post-election politics plays out,” Kganyago stated earlier this month in Soweto. “The only impact is what kind of policies any coalition will propose. If the policies are not sustainable, we might not have investment.”

While money markets are assigning a slim chance of a 25-basis point rate cut in July, they are fully pricing in a reduction by November.

Bloomberg Africa economist Yvonne Mhango anticipates the rate-cutting cycle to begin in the fourth quarter, supported by a sharp drop in gasoline prices in June and a rally in the rand.

The rand has appreciated more than 3% since Friday, following the ANC’s agreement to a power-sharing deal with business-friendly opposition parties and the re-election of President Cyril Ramaphosa.

In May, the annual inflation rates for four of the twelve product groups remained stable, including food and non-alcoholic beverages.

However, transport, alcoholic beverages and tobacco, and recreation and culture saw higher rates. Food prices increased by 4.3% in May, slightly down from 4.4% in April, while transport costs rose by 6.3%, up from 5.7% and marking the highest rate for this category since October 2023.

The central bank’s cautious stance on monetary policy reflects its ongoing concerns about inflation.

Governor Kganyago has consistently voiced worries that the inflation rate is not decreasing as quickly as desired. The MPC’s upcoming decision will hinge on sustained inflationary pressures and the need to balance economic stability with fostering growth.

As South Africa navigates its economic challenges, the steady inflation rate in May provides a measure of predictability for policymakers and investors alike.

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Ghana Reports Strong 4.7% GDP Growth in First Quarter of 2024

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Ghana’s economy showed impressive growth in the first quarter of 2024 with the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) expanding by 4.7% compared to the same period last year, according to Government Statistician Samuel Kobina Annim.

This represents an increase from the 3.8% growth recorded in the previous quarter and should provide a much-needed boost to the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) as the nation approaches the presidential elections scheduled for December 7.

The positive economic data comes amidst a challenging backdrop of fiscal consolidation efforts under a $3 billion International Monetary Fund (IMF) rescue program.

The government has been working to control debt through reduced spending and restructuring nearly all of its $44 billion debt.

This includes ongoing negotiations with private creditors to reorganize $13 billion worth of bonds.

The latest GDP figures are seen as a vindication of the NPP’s economic policies, which have been under fire from the main opposition party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC).

The opposition has criticized the government’s handling of the economy, particularly its fiscal policies and the terms of the IMF program, arguing that they have imposed undue hardship on ordinary Ghanaians.

However, the 4.7% growth rate suggests that the measures taken to stabilize the economy are beginning to yield positive results.

Analysts believe that the stronger-than-expected economic performance will bolster the NPP’s position as the country gears up for the presidential elections.

“The growth we are seeing is a testament to the resilience of the Ghanaian economy and the effectiveness of the government’s policies,” Annim stated at a press briefing in Accra. “Despite the constraints imposed by the debt restructuring and IMF program, we are seeing significant progress.”

The IMF program, which is designed to restore macroeconomic stability, has necessitated tough fiscal adjustments.

These include cutting government expenditure and implementing structural reforms aimed at boosting economic efficiency and growth.

The government’s commitment to these reforms has been crucial in securing the confidence of international lenders and investors.

In addition to the IMF support, the government has also been focused on diversifying the economy, reducing its reliance on commodities, and fostering sectors such as manufacturing, services, and technology.

These efforts have contributed to the robust growth figures reported for the first quarter.

Economic growth in Ghana has been uneven in recent years, with periods of rapid expansion often followed by slowdowns.

The current administration has emphasized sustainable and inclusive growth, seeking to ensure that the benefits of economic progress are widely shared across all segments of the population.

The next few months will be critical as the government continues its efforts to stabilize the economy while preparing for the upcoming elections.

The positive GDP growth figures provide a strong foundation, but challenges remain, including managing inflation, creating jobs, and ensuring the stability of the financial sector.

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World Bank Commits Over $15 Billion to Support Nigeria’s Economic Reforms

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The World Bank has pledged over $15 billion in technical advisory and financial support to help the country achieve sustainable economic prosperity.

This commitment, announced in a feature article titled “Turning The Corner: Nigeria’s Ongoing Path of Economic Reforms,” underscores the international lender’s confidence in Nigeria’s recent bold reforms aimed at stabilizing and growing its economy.

The World Bank’s support will be channeled into key sectors such as reliable power and clean energy, girls’ education and women’s economic empowerment, climate adaptation and resilience, water and sanitation, and governance reforms.

The bank lauded Nigeria’s government for its courageous steps in implementing much-needed reforms, highlighting the unification of multiple official exchange rates, which has led to a market-determined official rate, and the phasing out of the costly gasoline subsidy.

“These reforms are crucial for Nigeria’s long-term economic health,” the World Bank stated. “The supply of foreign exchange has improved, benefiting businesses and consumers, while the gap between official and parallel market exchange rates has narrowed, enhancing transparency and curbing corrupt practices.”

The removal of the gasoline subsidy, which had cost the country over 8.6 trillion naira (US$22.2 billion) from 2019 to 2022, was particularly noted for its potential to redirect fiscal resources toward more impactful public investments.

The World Bank pointed out that the subsidy primarily benefited wealthier consumers and fostered black market activities, rather than aiding the poor.

The bank’s article emphasized that Nigeria is at a turning point, with macro-fiscal reforms expected to channel more resources into sectors critical for improving citizens’ lives.

The World Bank’s support is designed to sustain these reforms and expand social protection for the poor and vulnerable, aiming to put the economy back on a sustainable growth path.

In addition to this substantial support, the World Bank recently approved a $2.25 billion loan to Nigeria at a one percent interest rate to finance further fiscal reforms.

This includes $1.5 billion for the Nigeria Reforms for Economic Stabilization to Enable Transformation (RESET) Development Policy Financing, and $750 million for the NG Accelerating Resource Mobilization Reforms Programme-for-Results (ARMOR).

“The future can be bright, and Nigeria can rise and serve as an example for the region on how macro-fiscal and governance reforms, along with continued investments in public goods, can accelerate growth and improve the lives of its citizens,” the World Bank concluded.

With this robust backing from the World Bank, Nigeria is well-positioned to tackle its economic challenges and embark on a path to sustained prosperity and development.

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