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IMF: Currency Depreciation Increasing Public Debt in Sub-Saharan Africa

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The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said the depreciation of sub-Saharan African currencies against the US dollar pushes up public debt stock.

This is contained in the global lender’s recent blog post titled ‘African Currencies Are Under Pressure Amid Higher-for-Longer US Interest Rates’.

Countries in sub-Saharan Africa include Nigeria, Angola, Kenya, South Africa, Ghana, Chad, Ethiopia and others.

IMF said weaker currencies make the fight to curb inflation harder given sub-Saharan Africa’s dependence on imports.

The Bretton Woods institution said countries in the region have recorded an average of 8 percent depreciation of their currencies since January 2022.

IMF, however, said the extent varies by country, adding that Ghana’s cedi and Sierra Leone’s leone depreciated by more than 45 percent.

“Most sub-Saharan African currencies have weakened against the US dollar, fanning inflationary pressures across the continent as import prices surge,” the article reads.

“This, together with a growth slowdown, leaves policymakers with difficult choices as they balance keeping inflation in check with a still-fragile recovery.”

On the implications, the IMF said when currencies weaken against the US dollar, local prices rise, as much of what people buy, including essential items like food, are imported.

The financial institution said more than two-thirds of imports are priced in US dollars for most countries in the region.

“Weaker currencies also push up public debt. About 40 percent of public debt is external in sub-Saharan Africa and over 60 percent of that debt is in US dollars for most countries,” the article further reads.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, exchange rate depreciations have contributed to the region’s rise in public debt by about 10 percentage points of GDP on average by end-2022, holding all else equal.

“Growth and inflation (which reduces the real value of existing debts) helped to contain the public debt increase to about 6 percent of GDP during the same period.”

The IMF said countries where exchange rates are not pegged (fixed) to a currency have little choice but to let the exchange rate adjust and tighten monetary policy to fight inflation.

The global lender said countries with pegged exchange rates will need to adjust monetary policy in line with the country of the peg.

“In both country groups, fiscal consolidation can help to rein in external imbalances and limit the increase in debt related to currency depreciation. Structural reforms can help to boost growth,” the IMF said.

Economy

Nigerian Banking System is Stable, CIBN Assures Nigerians

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The Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) on Wednesday reassured Nigerians that the banking system remained “safe, sound and resilient,” dispelling fears of bank liquidations.

Its president, Prof. Pius Olanrewaju, gave the reassurance in a statement in Lagos to correct misinformation and fake news that licence of more banks would be revoked.

Olanrewaju emphasised the importance of clarifying rumours that additional bank licenses would be revoked, following the regulatory action taken by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) against Heritage Bank Plc on June 3.

“We would like to allay the fears of bank customers and the general public that the assertion is false and misleading.

“The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) have debunked the claim,” the Chairman of Council, CIBN, stated.

He added that the ongoing recapitalisation process announced by the CBN aims to further strengthen the resilience of banks and their capacity to support the growth of the Nigerian economy.

“Consequently, we urge the public to continue conducting their banking services without hesitation or apprehension,” Olanrewaju said.

According to him, CIBN is committed to promoting best practices and ensuring that the sector remains safe and sound, in collaboration with other stakeholders in the ecosystem. (NAN)

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Business News

FG Secures Investment Commitments of over $30bn Across Sectors-Minister

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The Federal Government  has secured investment commitments of more than 30 billion dollars across different sectors of the economy.

Dr Doris Anite, the Minister, Industry, Trade, and Investment (FMITI), said this during her presentation at the Ministerial Sectoral News Conference to mark President Bola Tinubu’s first year in office  on Tuesday in Abuja.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that her presentation was titled “Unlocking Trade and Investment to Achieve Renewed Hope Agenda “- Key Achievements and Contributions of the ministry.

Anite said Nigeria’s investment landscape was now witnessing a significant influx of foreign capital, aligning with the Renewed Hope agenda  Tinubu.

She said in addition, the ministry was taking decisive and structured steps to attract capital investments, which would transform the nation’s homegrown enterprises and industries into global players.

“We have concluded stakeholders’ engagements with our domestic private equity and asset management firms towards the inauguration of an Investment Mobilisation Initiative aimed at increasing local and foreign investment as a catalyst for economic growth.”

The minister said in a bid to boost private equity capital formation, the Nigeria diaspora fund was initiated.

“The Nigeria diaspora remit between 20 to 25 billion dollars annually according to the World Bank, but these remittances have not been channeled intentionally to private equity.

“ Therefore, the investment initiative by my ministry is creating the platform to target, mobilise and utilise some of these funds into the productive economy.

“Our Private Equity and Asset Management firms are adept at attracting investments and the support from the Ministry is an assurance that the government is backing this investment drive.

“Government will provide the enabling environment, remove the roadblocks and red tapes to ensure that these investments thrive.”

Anite said the investment drive was not limited to only Nigerian Diasporans, but the ministry was also reaching out to all fund providers.

She said the ministry had also received support from development finance partners.

“I have no doubt that with the success of this initiative, Nigeria will witness a boom in the formation of businesses, and a strong financial and capital market.

“Nigeria will also witness the creation of a strong economic and industrial base to catalyse a one trillion dollar Gross Domestic Product (GDP) economy.”

Anite said the ministry was set to host the Nigeria Investment Summit, a platform to connect domestic and global investors to Nigeria.

“We are creating and de-risking the investment opportunities in Nigeria, and will showcase these as we inaugurate our digital dealroom which will present the investment opportunities and help facilitate the investments to happen.”

She said this had become necessary because most contracts issued in Nigeria had other jurisdictions as places for arbitration, mostly England.

“We have observed that this is so because most businesses experience delays in the arbitration and legal process for enforcing contracts.

“This red tape will be removed with the automated commercial courts, and this will boost investor confidence and increase investment flows.” (NAN) 

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Economy

Domestic Securities Market a Major Source of Funding for FG – DMO

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The Debt Management Office (DMO), says the Nigerian domestic securities market remains a major source of funding for the Federal Government.

The Director-General of the DMO, Patience Oniha, said this on Monday in Lagos at an interactive session with primary dealers in the Federal Government securities market.

According to Oniha, during COVID-19, when the international markets were closed, we were able to raise the full amount needed to fund the budget.

“Last year, we raised seven trillion Naira as new domestic borrowing. It speaks to the size of the domestic market, its resilience, and its sophistication, unlike we have in many African markets,’’ she said.

Oniha said that the 2024 budget had a deficit of six trillion Naira to be financed through new domestic borrowing.

She said that the National Assembly also approved N7.3 trillion Ways and Means for securitisation.

“Out of the new domestic borrowing of six trillion Naira, we have raised N4.5 trillion. For the Ways and Means, out of seven trillion approved for securitisation, we have raised N4.905 trillion.

“The financial sector has come a long way, and this is another strategic meeting to chart a way forward,’’ Oniha said.

Mrs Nadia Zakari, the President, Financial Market Dealers Association (FMDA), said that the Nigerian business environment was evolving and unique, necessitating such interactive sessions.

According to Zakari, such sessions are critical for both market operators and the Federal Government for them to be able to make decisions as they plan for the rest of the year.

“We stand as financial intermediaries, and we are in a very important position of interacting with other market operators, the end investors and the DMO,’’ she said. (NAN)

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