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FX Inflows into Nigeria Still Below Pre-COVID Levels as Outflows Rise

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Foreign Exchange FX Inflows

By Tunde Abidoye

Nigeria is still battling with foreign exchange (FX) inflows despite efforts by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to boost liquidity in the space.

In its latest Quarterly Statistical Bulletin for the fourth quarter of 2020, the apex bank said the total FX inflows into the Nigerian economy in the period declined by 6.4 per cent quarter-on-quarter and 42 per cent year-on-year to $24.8 billion.

Although aggregate inflows have increased since they bottomed out to a 3-year low at the height of the pandemic, they have not recovered to pre-COVID levels.

FX inflows through the CBN increased 17.1 per cent quarter-on-quarter to $8.2 billion (or 33 per cent of total inflows), thanks to a 48 per cent quarter-on-quarter rise in non-oil receipts to $6.8 billion.

A $2.0 billion category titled others including FGN loans underpinned the increase in non-oil receipts. On a net basis, the CBN’s swap arrangements grew 117 per cent quarter-on-quarter to $792 million.

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In contrast, oil receipts fell 44 per cent quarter-on-quarter to $1.3 billion due to i) Nigeria’s adherence to its OPEC oil production quota, which resulted in a decline of 0.1 million barrels per day and, ii) a decrease in NNPC’s share of oil and gas exports.

Autonomous sources (other than the CBN) contributed $16.6 billion in forex inflows or 67 per cent of overall inflows. It was supported by a 10 per cent increase in over-the-counter (OTC) purchases (under invisible transactions), which included capital imports, home remittances, and other OTC purchases which we reckon are mostly linked to bonds.

A further breakdown of OTC purchases showed that capital imports and home remittances shrunk by 25 per cent quarter-on-quarter and 52 per cent quarter-on-quarter respectively.

The drop in capital imports can be attributed to Foreign Portfolio Investors (FPIs’) waning appetite after a worsening of FX liquidity, induced by a sell-off in oil prices as the pandemic worsened. Remittances also suffered a blow from the weak economic growth and employment levels in migrant-hosting countries.

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Drawing from a different data series, we note that workers remittances in the balance of payments accounts which provides a more holistic view of remittances also slumped by 31 per cent quarter-on-quarter to $4 billion in Q4 ’20 and 28 per cent year-on-year to $17 billion in FY ’20.

In an effort to boost remittances, the CBN in December 2020 said beneficiaries could take their remittances from licensed International Money Transfer Operators (IMTOs) in US dollars. It also increased the number of authorized IMTOs.

In March 2021, the bank followed this up by launching its Naira 4 Dollar Scheme. Under the scheme, diaspora remittance recipients are rewarded with an extra N5 for every dollar wired through official routes.

FX outflows through the economy increased by 24.1 per cent quarter-on-quarter to $9.2 billion. About 97 per cent of total outflows were routed through the CBN.

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The strong increase in forex outflows reflects a rise in CBN FX interventions at multiple intervention windows, notably the restart of FX sales to bureaux de change operators and at the investors and exporters (I&E) window in August ’20 after a five-month hiatus.

Despite the increase in outflows during the quarter, FX outflows remain below pre-pandemic levels, due largely to the CBN’s import compression strategies.

FBNQuest Researchs’ conversations with FPIs and domestic investors indicate that greater FX liberalisation (including further adjustments to the FX rate) and the loosening of FX controls such as the CBN’s 42-item FX restriction list are prerequisites to open the tap of portfolio flows.

Tunde Abidoye is the Head of Equity Research at FBNQuest. Additional information by Business Post

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Economy

NGX Considers Policy Advocacy to Woo Companies

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temi popoola NGX

By Dipo Olowookere

The chief executive of the Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Limited, Mr Temi Popoola, has said the exchange would consider policy advocacy aimed to encourage more companies from listing their shares on the bourse.

Speaking at an engagement session with institutional clients on Monday, July 26, 2021, Mr Popoola admitted that there was a dearth of listings on the exchange, but said efforts were being made to address the issue.

He identified two major areas around attracting more listings to the market first by considering the driving factor behind major spiked in listing activity and then considering barriers to entry.

In dealing with the first, he noted that, “It is impossible to disconnect policy from listing activities evidenced by the successes recorded in the eras of indigenization, privatisation and the banking sector consolidation.”

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“Our strategy will, therefore, be built around policy advocacy, whilst addressing barriers to entry such as time to market, ease of entry and benefits of listing,” he revealed.

However, he emphasised that the demutualisation of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) some months ago has positioned the exchange to deliver more value to stakeholders.

“Following the recent demutualisation of the exchange, it is important that we continue to function well and deliver the highest level of service delivery that our stakeholders are accustomed to. It is not lost on us that we have to embody many things for our wide variety of stakeholders.

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“As such we have begun to think about the exchange of tomorrow and how we can continue to meet evolving needs of the market. To do this, we will take on three major matters – listings, technology and investor participation,” he said.

Speaking technology, Mr Popoola recognised the advanced strides the exchange has made in digitisation over the years and indicated that it is time to take a step further to digital transformation, addressing how people connect to the bourse, how to distribute products through technology and how to democratise finance.

In this regard, he emphasised the need to attract more technology stocks to the Nigerian capital market in order to capitalise on the gains we see in global markets that are home to the world’s biggest technology companies.

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As for investor participation, Mr Popoola stated, “We have big plans to attract investors – retail and institutional, domestic and foreign – to our market.

“In terms of diversification, we understand that equities may no longer be the answer for all investors and we are focused on creating an exchange that understands investors’ appetite and is indeed the preferred destination for finding products that suit their needs.”

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Economy

NewGold ETF Attracts N4.41bn from Offshore Investors

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Newgold Issuer Limited ETF

By Dipo Olowookere

Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs) space in Nigeria has continued to attract more offshore investors as it has remained as an avenue for them to diversify their investment portfolios.

Business Post reports that the demand for the form of investment asset has remained high despite foreign exchange (FX) restrictions in the country.

Recall that a month ago, this newspaper reported that foreign portfolio investors use this means to convert their Naira assets into Dollar as the nation grapples with forex liquidity.

Recently, the Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Limited released its quarterly report on the ETFs market for Q2 and it was revealed that foreign transactions increased by 99.64 per cent even as 10 stockbrokers drove 99.9 per cent of total transaction value and 97.3 per cent of total volumes of ETFs.

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It was observed that the NewGold ETF was the most active with its value rising by 99.58 per cent to N4.41 billion, taking the lead in both value and volume traded.

The report showed that offshore investors traded 524.241 units of NewGold valued at N4.41 billion, while Vetiva Griffin 30 followed with 501,48 units worth N8.12 million.

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In addition, Vetiva Industrial Goods transacted 248,469 units valued at N4.52 million, Meristem Value ETF sold 115,58 units valued at N1.87 million, while Stanbic IBTC ETF traded 19,774 units valued at N1.48 million.

Analysis of the report showed that Rencap led in terms of brokers’ performance as regards value, retaining its top position in this category, having traded about 69.7 per cent.

RMB followed, accounting for 12.72 per cent while ABSA Securities accounted for 9.04 per cent of transactions.

On the other hand, Vetiva led in terms of volume, accounting for 31.55 per cent in the period under review. Rencap followed with 24.9 per cent while IONE accounted for 14.66 per cent volume of transactions.

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However, market capitalisation declined by a record 39.7 per cent between both quarters as the commodity-backed ETP suffered net outflows of 54 per cent, from N12.0 billion in Q1 2021 to N5.5 billion in Q2 2021, due to FX restrictions in the regulatory climate.

Furthermore, trade volumes fell by approximately 69 per cent from about 5.3 million units in Q2 2020 to 1.6 million units in Q2 2021.

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Economy

CBN Gives Nearly 4 million Farmers N756.5bn

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Ghana peasant farmers

By Ashemiriogwa Emmanuel

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Tuesday said it has disbursed N756.5 billion to nearly 4 million (approximately 3,734,938) smallholder farmers cultivating 4.6 million hectares of land to improve food security in the country.

The development was revealed by CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emiefele, while presenting the communiqué of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting in Abuja.

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According to the CBN boss, a total number of 627,051 farmers were granted N120.2 billion for the 2021 wet season under the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) to cultivate 847,484 hectares of land.

“Under the bank’s development finance initiatives, the bank granted N756.5 billion to 3,734,938 smallholder farmers cultivating 4.6 million hectares of land, of which N120.2 billion was extended for the 2021 wet season to 627,051 farmers for 847,484 hectares of land, under the ABP,” Mr Emefiele said.

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Furthermore, the apex bank said a total of N121.6 billion has been shared among 32,617 beneficiaries under the Agribusiness/Small and Medium Enterprise Investment Scheme (AGSMEIS).

Mr Emiefele also disclosed that the bank has released N318.2 billion to 679,422 beneficiaries for the targeted credit facility.

These beneficiaries, as said by the CBN chief, includes 572,189 individuals and 107,233 small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs).

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Meanwhile, the committee reviewed the domestic economic developments and noted that the non-oil sector, agriculture and industry sub-sectors were the major drivers of improvement as it recorded growth rates of 2.28 and 0.94 per cent, accordingly.

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