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.
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.
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.
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
Investors Trapped as Standard Alliance, Niger Insurance Lose Operating Licences
By Dipo Olowookere
The operating licences of Standard Alliance Insurance Plc and Niger Insurance Plc have been revoked by the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM).
Although no specific reason was given for the withdrawal of the licences of the underwriting firms, the regulatory agency for the insurance sector in Nigeria disclosed that the revocation became effective Tuesday, June 21, 2022.
“This is to notify all insurance stakeholders and members of the public that the National Insurance Commission has cancelled the certificates of registration of Standard Alliance Insurance Plc, RIC – 091 and Niger Insurance Plc, RIC – 029 with effect from the 21st day of June 2022,” a statement issued on Tuesday, June 28, 2022, by the Head of Corporate Communications and Market Development at NAICOM, Mr Rasaaq Salami, stated.
In the meantime, the two insurance companies would be run by receivers/liquidators announced by the agency.
“The commission has appointed Sanya Ogunkuade Esq of Plot 217, Upper Grace Plaza, 3rd Floor (Left Wing), Shetima Munguno Crescent, Behind Julius Berger Equipment Yard, Utako, Abuja as the receiver/liquidator for Niger Insurance Plc, while Kehinde Aina Esq of Aina Blankson LP, 5/7, Ademola Street, SW Ikoyi, Lagos has been appointed the receiver/liquidator for Standard Alliance Insurance Plc,” the statement further said.
Concluding, NAICOM advised all stakeholders “to forward their enquiries to the respective receiver/liquidator for each company for their necessary action,” assuring them “of the safety and protection of their interests.”
Business Post reports that Standard Alliance and Niger Insurance are both listed on the Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Limited and with this action of NAICOM, shareholders of the firms are trapped as they may not be able to recoup their investments in the companies.
Shares of the insurance companies closed flat at 20 kobo each today, with investors trading 1,530 units of Niger Insurance shares on Monday and no trade recorded for Standard Alliance Insurance as it has been on suspension since July 2019, according to data obtained by this newspaper from the exchange on Tuesday.
Niger Insurance has shares outstanding of 7,739,479,368 units and a market capitalisation of N1.6 billion, while Standard Alliance Insurance has 12,911,030,586 units valued at N2.6 billion.
Both companies will have their stocks delisted from the bourse in the coming days.
Nigeria Must Adopt Dual Circulation Economy to Prosper—Sekibo
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
The Managing Director of Heritage Bank Plc, Mr Ifie Sekibo, has advised the federal government to adopt a dual circulation economic strategy like China to attain prosperity.
A dual circulation economy involves growing exports and expanding domestic demands from locally produced items by building higher consumption almost at the same time.
For Mr Sekibo, this strategy will work well in Nigeria because the country has the population to soak the pressure.
Speaking at an event organised by The Men’s League of Christ Church Port Harcourt, Rivers State, he also stressed that the government must address security challenges and leadership issues as they remain very critical for the success of the economic model.
At the programme themed What do Nigerians Want,? Mr Sekibo said, “On a higher note, I think one of the things that we need to achieve as a country is the issue of functional and value-adding identity management, which is still far away from us, although, some people know that we have BVN, NIMC and a few other identity capture systems they have not been as functional and value-adding, like the social security number that most people in advanced economies carry.”
The Heritage Bank chief, who was represented by the Divisional Head of Strategy and Business Solutions of the bank, Mr Segun Akanji, further explained that to achieve a prosperous economy, Nigeria needs to find ways and means by policies to build a dual circulation economy which thrives on three pillars.
According to him, the country needs to focus on building a dual circulation economy where it can expand domestic production and demand by making sure that the masses are employed.
“We need to make our people productive and stop putting subsidies in unproductive zones. When you give subsidies to people with inadequate or no income, they really cannot add value to the economy, and money has a way of flowing away due to the import of consumables from other countries and because of this, a larger portion of every consumption or cash given as subsidy gets out of the country,” Mr Sekibo stated while delivering a paper titled The Economy Nigeria Needs to Break Forth.
The bank’s helmsman further explained that to expand the domestic production, the government must give the private sector support to drive employment creation, technology, which is riding on innovation and manufacturing must be in place and, the population which is an added advantage must be well educated.
He highlighted the need to examine how the country could add value to primary production for global export, emphasizing on reduction of over-dependence on foreign markets but rather increasing local production for export, whilst also increasing demand for local products.
Mr Sekibo further affirmed that if states could function as proper federating units and take the lead of the competitive comparative advantages therein, wealth creation would be achieved that would bring about the desired changes.
Also speaking at the event, the former Governor of Anambra State and presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP) in the 2023 general elections, Mr Peter Obi, agreed with Mr Sekibo that the country must address the issues of insecurity and leadership deficiency in order to prosper.
He lamented the huge indebtedness of the country, which he blamed on unproductivity due to the inimical situation of a high unemployment rate resulting in over 80 million Nigerians being jobless.
According to him, cumulative failure of the government over the years plunged Nigeria into insecurity, noting that other factors include the failure to migrate from sharing formula to production formula and lack of will to transform the power sector and the need to focus and support the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).
On his part, a clergyman, Pastor Ituah Ighodalo, harped on the need for leadership change, arguing that what the country needs now are leaders who have a vision and are ready to sacrifice for the common man, stating, “things must be done differently”.
Also speaking, Prof. Oyelowo Oyewo submitted that the police, power provision and railway must be decentralised as this will make states to be less dependence on the centre.
He maintained that regions are closer to the people and will boost security, the economy and the sense of belonging by the populace. He also identified data and planning as key factors in ensuring that programmes are tailored towards the people.
$13bn Trans-Saharan Gas Pipeline to Boost Nigeria’s Gas Exports
By Adedapo Adesanya
Nigeria is set to boost its gas development initiative through exports to Europe after reaching a new milestone in further opening the domestic and regional gas market via the construction of the multi-billion Trans-Saharan Gas Pipeline (TSGP) alongside Algeria and Niger.
The oil ministers of the three countries — Mr Mahamane Sani Mahamadou, Minister of Petroleum for the Republic of Niger, Mr Mohamed Arkab, Minister of Energy and Mines, Algeria, and Mr Timipre Sylva, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources of Nigeria as well as the Director Generals of national oil companies (NOCs) of the three African countries met to discuss the implementation of the TSGP on June 20, 2022, in Abuja.
During the meeting, which follows the signing of the Niamey Declaration during the 3rd Forum of the Economic Community of West African States in February 2022, parties established a task force and roadmap for the development of the TSGP.
It was disclosed that the TSGP project will mark a new era of improved regional cooperation in Africa, enhancing gas monetization and exports while scaling up exports to Europe via Algeria.
Not only will the $13 billion project drive socioeconomic growth by unlocking massive investments across the energy sector, but it will also help create jobs in various industries including energy, petrochemicals and manufacturing whilst optimizing energy production and positioning Africa as a global energy hub.
A steering committee made up of the three Ministers and Director Generals of the NOCs, established during the two-day meeting, will be responsible for updating the feasibility study for TSGP and will meet at the end of July 2022 in Algiers to discuss how to progress with the TSGP project.
With energy poverty increasing across the African continent due to limited investments in energy projects, delays in exploration, production and infrastructure rollout, the COVID-19 pandemic, and global energy transition-related policies, the TSGP project will bring in a new era of energy reliability for Africa.
With the 4,128 km pipeline running from Warri in Nigeria to Hassi R’Mel in Algeria via Niger, the pipeline will not only create a direct connection between Nigeria and Algeria’s gas fields to European markets but will bring significant benefits to Nigeria.
The pipeline will enable up to 30 billion cubic meters of natural gas to be traded yearly enhancing regional and international energy trade.
With gas emerging as the energy of the future, the TSGP project will play a critical role in positioning Nigeria, alongside Algeria and Niger, at the forefront of the energy transition.
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