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Nigeria records over $1.5bn FDI in few days amid Naira gains 

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Following recent gains in the country’s currency, the  Naira, Nigeria’s Central Bank (CBN) has claimed that over $1.5bn came into the Nigerian economy over the past few days.

The claim is an indication that the CBN’s monetary policy efforts are beginning to yield results as the Naira continues to strengthen significantly against the US dollar in recent weeks, exchanging for as low as ₦1,200 during the week from a peak of about ₦1,800 per USD.

According to Ali, in the Autonomous Foreign Exchange market, the naira has also been making gains. On Friday, it was trading at N1,309/$1, down from N1,611/$1 in the second week of March 2024.

This information was released in a statement made available on Friday evening by Mrs. Sidi Ali, the acting director of the CBN’s corporate communications department. She pointed out that information the bank had access to suggested the inflows resulted from its deliberate efforts to stabilize the foreign currency market.

 

Some of the recent monetary policies include harmonising the nation’s currency rate in June last year, which led to the naira depreciating to more than 1,800/$ on the official market. Also earlier in the week on Monday, the CBN convened its 294th MPC meeting, during which it increased the benchmark interest rate by 2% to 24.75%. Before that, in February, it increased the loan rate by 4% to 22.75%.

On Wednesday, the bank also held an auction of N1.64 trillion in Treasury Bills, with stop rates for the 91-day, 182-day, and 364-day tenors of 16.24%, 17%, and 21.124%, respectively.

Ali also gave assurance that the Cardoso-led CBN would continue to be dedicated to maintaining market stability and the proper valuation of the Naira relative to other major currencies globally, even if he acknowledged that Thursday’s rate showed the naira was moving in the correct path.

 

There were concerns expressed over the decision to raise interest rates. However, the governor of the central bank maintained that the increase would only be temporary and that the goal was to stabilize the economy by bringing interest rates up to pace with the nation’s current inflation rate.

“While the increase in interest rate may have tendencies toward strangulating the economy, with the foreign exchange rate coming down, that also helps to moderate it overall.

“And as I said earlier, you would expect that this would not be too long drawn; at least I would hope so. We are getting towards a situation where the exchange rate is moderating, and we are expecting it to moderate and then it finds a level that, quite frankly, is sustainable. This would involve huge collaboration with the fiscal side because a lot of that cannot just rely on the monetary side alone,” the governor said.

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Nigeria’s GT Holding plans $750 million capital increase

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Nigerian banking group, Guaranty Trust Holding Plc, wants to raise up to $750 million in capital and will ask its shareholders for permission to do so next month. It will join other banks in increasing their capital to meet new goals.

The Central Bank of Nigeria set minimum capital standards for banks last month. This is meant to make the country’s financial system stronger and give lenders a bigger chance to help the economy grow.

According to Guaranty Trust Holding Plc, Guaranty Trust Bank is one of the best banks in Nigeria. The company said on Friday that it would seek shareholders for permission to raise the money at a meeting on May 9. In the last few weeks, competitors Access Holdings and FBN Holdings have both said they want to raise money. To meet the new level set by the central bank, more than 20 banks in Nigeria will need to get more capital within two years.

A statement from the CBN in March said that commercial banks with foreign licenses must now have a minimum capital base of N500 billion.

The recapitalization is a big boost that will help these banks compete in the world market for money. Regional banks must have at least N50 billion in capital, while national banks with permission must have at least N200 billion.

The apex bank said that lenders need more buffers to help Nigeria’s economic growth goals, especially since the local naira has lost a lot of value since June of last year.

Credit rating agency Fitch said on Wednesday that over the next two years, Nigerian banks will likely issue a lot more shares of stock and merge with other banks, since some small or medium-sized lenders may have trouble getting cash.

Nigeria’s banking system has been through several crises, with the worst ones happening in 2008 and 2009. The number of banks dropped from about 90 in 2005 to 24 by 2006 and to 20 commercial banks by the end of 2011. This was because of a program of recapitalization and consolidation.

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Ethiopia might devalue currency to secure IMF loan

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Ethiopia may need to decide on a big currency devaluation soon to get a rescue loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

In December, East Africa’s most populous country went bankrupt, making it the third African country in as many years to not pay its debts. The country already had high inflation.

Ethiopia hasn’t gotten any money from the IMF since 2020, and its last loan deal with the fund fell through in 2021. In late 2022, the federal government and a rebellious regional authority made a deal to end a cold war that had been going on for two years.

Although the IMF has not said that currency reform is necessary for its backing, it however maintained that progress was made during its most recent visit. However, the Fund usually favours flexible, market-determined exchange rates. Ethiopia has requested $3.5 billion of support from the IMF, sources told Reuters last year.

The birr currently trades at between 117 and 120 per dollar on the black market, which is more than double the official rate of about 56.7. This is because there is a constant lack of foreign cash and the exchange rate is tightly controlled.

“It seems that the Ethiopian authorities have found accepting the demands of the IMF hard,” said Abdulmenan Mohammed, an Ethiopian economic analyst based in Britain.

“The Ethiopian authorities are worried about the devaluation of the birr, (which) would have serious negative economic repercussions, including soaring inflation… and surging foreign currency denominated debts in terms of birr.”

Early in 2021, Ethiopia asked the G20’s Common Framework to restructure its debt. This was set up in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to include new creditor countries like China and India. Other African countries like Tunisia and Zambia also suffered a similar fate with their foreign debt at the time.

As of the end of March, Ethiopia’s foreign debt totals $28.2 billion. According to Boston University’s Chinese Loans to Africa Database, the country’s biggest bilateral creditor, China, agreed to stop collecting its debts in August 2023. From 2006 to 2022, China promised to give the country $14 billion.

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