Indications emerged at the weekend that the current banking sector reforms and the relative stability in the prices of crude oil may have returned Nigeria to the path of economic stability with the remarkable reduction in inflation and interest rates.
The nation’s annual interest rates fell from 11 per cent in August to 10.4 per cent in September, thus raising the prospect of stability in the nation’s economy.
Data released by the National Bureau of Statistics at the weekend showed that the nation’s annual inflation dropped to 10.4 per cent on a 12-month basis in September from 11 per cent in August.
“The composite consumer price index or CPI rose 10.4 per cent year-on-year in September 2009 and it is slower than the 11 per cent increase recorded in the previous month,” the agency said in a report, giving no reason for the decrease.
“The monthly change of the CPI was 0.5 per cent increase in September 2009,” it added.
According to the bureau, the urban All Items Index rose by 0.2 per cent while the corresponding Rural Index increased by 0.7 per cent in September, when compared with the preceding month.
The bureau stated that the year-on-year average consumer price level as at September 2009 for urban and rural dwellers rose by 8.1 per cent and 11.5 per cent respectively.
Nigerian inflation had risen steadily since the second quarter of last year, standing at 9.7 per cent in May before soaring to 14 per cent in July owing to the effects of the global food crisis.
The Federal Government had managed to slow inflation for most of 2006 and 2007 through belt-tightening measures to achieve a single-digit rate.
Such measures included a stable exchange rate for the national currency, as well as fiscal discipline.
Checks also showed that the CBN intervention has also forced down interest rates which was pegged at 21 per cent earlier in the year. Interest rate now hovers between 18.85 and 19.89 per cent.
According to the latest figures posted on the Money Market Association site, Prime Lending rate stood at 18.85 while Normal lending was put at 19.85 per cent respectively.
In specific terms, the Nigerian Interbank Offer Rate (NIBOR) for call fell to 4.75 per cent by the end of last week from 10.37 per cent at which it closed the previous week ended October 9, 2009.
The 7-day NIBOR closed the week at 7.41 per cent from 12.50 per cent. The 90-day paper closed the week at 13 per cent from 16 per cent, while 180 day instrument dropped to 14.50 per cent as against 17.58 per cent the previous week.
Explaining the trading for last week, Head, Treasury Sales, Fidelity Bank Plc, Mr. Uvic Ogban said that the N200 billion bailout funds released to the second batch of troubled banks hit the system last week Thursday, thereby dragging down the rates.
“The market responded to the bailout fund. The other influence on the rates was the anticipation by dealers that the market will be awash with funds up till this week. The meeting of the Federation Account and Allocation Committee (FAAC) was held last week. It is expected that the fund will hit the system in the current week. In addition to the inflow expected from the economic stimulus package. Since the market respond to information, the foregoing will help sustain the low rates in the current week,” he said.
During an interactive session with journalists at the recently concluded World Bank/ International Monetary Fund (IMF) meetings in Istanbul, Turkey, CBN Governor, Lamido Sanusi, said the banking watchdog has been able to achieve macroeconomic stability, especially with both the exchange and interest rates.
He noted that when he became the CBN governor last June, inflation rate was 15 per cent but as at end of August, it had fallen to 11 per cent.
Sanusi said inflation was likely to go to nine per cent by the end of the year.
“When I became governor of Central Bank, inflation rate was 15 per cent. End of August, it was 11 per cent. The gap between the official rate and parallel rate was 25 per cent: as at today, it is 2.98 per cent. All short term money market rates today are lower than they were in December 2008.
“We’ve delivered macroeconomic stability. We’ve checked stable exchange rate-in fact, in the last one week; I have been fighting against the rapid appreciation of the naira because of return in confidence. It’s just that in the management of the macro economy, the CBN has been so successful and we’ve done all of these in the middle of all those financial turmoil.
“There’s been no spike on inter-bank rates. There’s been no spike on exchange rates. There’s been no capital flight and inflation has not gone up. Those are the facts the president mentioned in his Independence Day speech: Those achievements of his administration nobody talks about. Inflation is likely to go to nine per cent by the end of the year. Look at our exchange reserves, the foreign reserves- we stemmed the outflow: we were losing foreign reserves at the rate of $2 billion per month. In the last two months we have lost nothing,” he said.
Nigerians Spend N2.6trn On Data, Airtime In Nine Months
MTN Nigeria and Airtel Africa have revealed that the amount spent on airtime and data by Nigerian telecom subscribers rose to at least N2.59 trillion in the first nine months of 2023.
According to the financial statements of the two telecommunication companies, this amounts to a 32.57 per cent increase from the N1.95 trillion both telcos recorded from both income sources in the corresponding period of 2022.
The increase in voice and data venue was partially driven by rising data subscriptions and the devaluation of the naira on Airtel’s part.
In the first nine months of 2022, Airtel made $1.41bn from airtime and data. When converted at the exchange rate of N461/$ which was obtained at the time, it amounted to N647.71billion.
In the same period of 2023, the company’s income from these two revenue sources amounted to $1.29 billion.
When converted at the exchange rate of N777/$ at the time, it amounted to N1.003 trillion.
On MTN’s part, increasing data revenues continue to fuel the company’s overall revenue growth. Data revenues grew by 36.36 per cent year-on-year, while voice revenues only grew by 10.64 per cent, indicating a rise in the usage of the Internet in the country.
Commenting on this growth, MTN said, “Data revenue grew by 36.4 per cent on increased usage and data conversion in new and existing base”.
The firm stated that data usage on its network grew by 29.1 per cent in the period under review.
It noted that “Data usage (GB per user) grew by 29.1 per cent to 8.6GB, and the number of smartphones on our network increased by 7.6 per cent, bringing smartphone penetration to 53.4 per cent, up 1.4pp YoY.
“Consequently, we recorded a 46.3 per cent growth in data traffic, with the 4G network accounting for 83.7 per cent of the total traffic (up 5.2pp YoY)”.
On its part, Airtel recorded an increase in data usage per customer to 5.9 GB per month. The firm highlighted, “Data revenue grew by 29.3 per cent in constant currency, driven by data customer base growth of 17.4 per cent and data ARPU growth of 12.3 per cent.
“Data usage per customer increased by 23.8 per cent to 5.9 GB per month (from 4.8 GB in the prior period). Our continued 4G network rollout has resulted in nearly 100 per cent of all our sites delivering 4G services”, it stated.
Increased Internet usage because of a rise in video streaming pushed the amount telecom consumers spent on telecom services to N3.86 trillion in 2022.
LCCI Faults FG’s $1trn GDP Projections
The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has said the macro-economic projections in the Federal Government’s Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) are not sufficient to achieve the $1 trillion economy target it set to achieve by 2029.
Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Yemi Cardoso, had last weekend restated the commitment of the government to realising the GDP target.
Reviewing Cardoso’s statement, the Director General, LCCI, Dr Chinyere Almona, explained that the basis for government’s projection contains some inconsistencies that will make it unachievable.
She said, “LCCI is aware of the enormous challenges and the uphill task before the CBN in ensuring macro-economic stability and restoring investors’ confidence.
“However, we note the inconsistencies between the Federal Government’s vision of achieving a $1 trillion economy in the next six years and the MTEF.
“The macro-economic projections in the MTEF state that the economy will grow by 3.76 percent 4.22 percent, and 4.78 percent in 2024, 2025, and 2026, respectively. We note that the projected growths are sub-optimal to achieve a $1trillion GDP by 2029, which implies an average growth of 21 percent over the next six years”.
Almona commended the CBN’s plan to review the minimum capital base of banks, but cautioned the apex bank to strengthen its banking supervision to avoid “too big to fail” banks.
She, however, said, “The Chamber appreciates the intellectual humility of the Governor in admitting the errors or mistakes of the past, particularly in the areas of corporate governance failures, diminished institutional autonomy of CBN, deviation from the core mandate of the bank, and unorthodox use of monetary tools and foray into fiscal activities under the cover of development finance activities.
“As we advance, we challenge the current CBN team to ensure professionalism and integrity and rebuild the trust of the general public.
“On recapitalization of banks, we commend the plan of CBN to review the minimum capital base of banks due to consistent devaluation of the Naira, which has eroded the capital base of banks, attracted significant investment into banks, as well as increased the capacity of banks to provide the required support for the economy.
“However, we caution the CBN to strengthen its banking supervision to avoid “too big to fail” banks.
“Given the sensitivity of monetary policy and price stability, we urge the CBN to ensure transparency and synergy between monetary and fiscal authorities and effectively communicate significant changes in policy direction”.
By: Corlins Walter
Firm Urges FG To Attract Foreign Investment
Multinational professional services firm, EY has advised the Federal Government to improve on its investment attractiveness as a way of building on previous year’s fortunes.
Senior Partner and Head of Markets, EY West Africa, Ashish Bakhshi, while sharing insights on a newly released report on Foreign Direct Investments for 2022, said Nigeria needed to improve on FDIs to achieve the ambitious targets it had set for itself to reduce poverty and build a sizeable middle class by 2030.
“Africa’s leaders will need to adopt pragmatism as they respond to a new geopolitical world order so that its member states can optimize the full spectrum of inbound investment opportunities, which will be essential in meeting Africa’s aspirations for a more equitable, wealthier and urbanised middle-class society”, the report read in part.
It stated further that “Last year saw Africa’s return as a top investment destination hub for global investors. The continent had struggled to attract investment since the onset of COVID-19 and took longer than other regions to recover, as a result of its delayed vaccine rollout and therefore its ability to reopen its 54 national economies.
“To this, its growth lagged pre-pandemic levels for longer than it did in mature markets, setting back the ambitious targets it had set for itself to reduce poverty and build a sizeable middle class by 2030.
“The new report, released by EY, a global multinational professional services firm, uncovered that FDI attracted more than 730 projects across the continent in 2022, injecting $194 billion in capital and creating 154,000 jobs.
“Significantly, Egypt saw a record of $ 107 billion in capital for its 149 FDI projects. In East Africa, Kenya dominated the FDI landscape while Nigeria was the leading country in West Africa.
“The countries came in third and fourth respectively for the largest FDI regions on the continent”.
The EY’s 13th Africa Attractiveness report tagged “A Pivot to Growth”, provides insights into the continent FDI, exposing that the 2022 calendar year saw a strong FDI rebound, led by Renewables inflows, with the West being the largest investor, while the North and Southern hubs of Africa were key beneficiaries.
A notable highlight of the report shows that CleanTech became the largest FDI recipient sector in 2022, leading Africa’s FDI for the first time.
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