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Economy

Naira Falls to N750/$1 at Parallel Market on FX Liquidity Squeeze

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Parallel Market

By Dipo Olowookere

The persistent squeeze in foreign exchange (FX) liquidity in Nigeria has further battered the value of the Naira against the United States Dollar in the black market.

The exchange rate of the Naira to the Dollar crashed to N750/$1 on Friday noon, according to data obtained by Business Post from forex traders on the streets of Lagos.

“We have not been able to get Dollars from the various sources, which is putting pressure on the Naira. The few with us are being rationed,” a forex trader in the Alimosho area of Lagos State, Mr Abdulahi Musa, told this reporter.

This reporter, who visited some commercial banks in the area to have a feel of the availability of FX, observed that most customers are unable to get Dollars in cash.

The bank officials at the FX desks of the financial institutions visited tell their customers that they are still expecting forex allocations from the head office.

One of them, who spoke with us on the condition of anonymity, said, “We do not have Dollars at the moment; what we have are the lower denominations like $1 and $10.

“You know that the CBN (Central Bank of Nigeria) has stopped allocating FX to banks. We are now to source FX, and this is affecting us.”

An aggrieved customer in one of the banks claimed the lenders hoard the forex to resell to FX hawkers.

“I want to believe that the banks have Dollars, but they intentionally refused to give their customers. What they do is to cajole you into accepting to transfer the Dollars to an Aboki (Bureaux De Change operator) stationed in the bank and tell you to fill a form that the cash was collected by you,” the aggrieved customer, who simply identified himself as Lekan, told Business Post.

At the unofficial FX market on Thursday, the Naira was sold at N735/$1, indicating that under 24 hours, the value of the Nigerian currency has devalued by 2.04 per cent or N15.

It was observed that the crashing of the domestic currency had been caused by the inability of customers to access FX from their banks. This puts pressure on the parallel market, allowing hoarding and speculative activities as electioneering begins.

Politicians have been blamed for mopping forex from the system to prosecute elections, as one of the bankers informed this reporter.

“Most politicians convert their Naira to Dollar because it is easy to have millions of Naira in a few Dollars. But we hope that the FX environment will be better after the elections,” the banker noted.

Recall that a few months ago, the Governor of the CBN, Mr Godwin Emefiele, warned that anyone caught converting Naira to Dollar or other foreign currencies would be severally dealt with.

“For those taking money from banks to buy dollars, it is illegal to do so. If the security agencies hold you, you will know the implication.

“We are monitoring customers and banks, and any bank involved would be sanctioned. We will place Post no Debit on the defaulting customer’s account.

“It is a very injurious tool to stop you from conducting illegal flows, either domestic or foreign currency. We will conduct investigations, and we will have proof, and you will not be able to conduct transactions in any Nigerian bank,” Mr Emefiele said.

Dipo Olowookere is a journalist based in Nigeria that has passion for reporting business news stories. At his leisure time, he watches football and supports 3SC of Ibadan. Mr Olowookere can be reached via dipo.olowookere@businesspost.ng

Economy

South Korea Pledges Mpox Vaccine Supplies

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Monkeypox mpox

By Kestér Kenn Klomegâh

Sadly, African health authorities for several months have pursued vaccines for curing mpox and its further spread mostly in vain as worldwide outbreaks were reported during this year. But there is some light at the end of the tunnel as some considerable assistance might come from the Republic of South Korea.

The Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said some few thousand doses being the first consignment of mpox vaccines as a donation, would arrive shortly and be used for health workers and people living with the disease in the hardest-hit areas in Africa.

The continent this year has recorded 202 deaths from mpox, formerly known as monkeypox, with a fatality rate of 19.3% across 13 countries. African health authorities for months have made feverish efforts in search for curbing the disease’s spread.

According to the Acting CDC director, Ahmed Ogwell, more than 50 new mpox cases in Congo were recorded this month and said Ghana and Nigeria are the other most affected countries. A surge in mpox infections was particularly reported last May outside West and Central Africa.

“Let us get vaccines onto the continent,” CDC Acting Head, Ahmed Ogwell, said in a weekly media briefing pointing to another instance of 1.3 billion people on the continent without access to a vaccine, as in the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The solutions need to be global in nature. If we’re not safe, the rest of the world is not safe,” he warned.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has, however, warned against discrimination. “A failure to act will have grave consequences for global health,” Lawrence Gostin, Director of the WHO Collaborating Center on National and Global Health Law, said on Twitter.

Health officials have emphasized that mpox can infect anyone in close contact with a patient or their contaminated clothing or bedsheets. Researchers are still exploring to establish how it spreads but believe it’s mainly through close, skin-to-skin contact and through contact with bedding and clothing that touched an infected person’s rash or body fluids.

It generally causes mild to moderate symptoms, including fever, fatigue and painful skin lesions that resolve within a few weeks.

Reports, however, said that the mpox had been established in parts of Central and West Africa for decades; it was not known to spark large outbreaks beyond the continent or to spread widely among people until May when authorities detected dozens of epidemics in Europe, North America and elsewhere.

In Africa, mpox mainly spreads to people by infected wild animals like rodents in limited outbreaks that typically have not crossed borders. In Europe, North America and elsewhere, the mpox is spreading among people with no links to animals or recent travel to Africa. In the U.S. and Europe, the vast majority of infections occur among men who have sex with men, though health officials have stressed that anyone can contract the virus.

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Economy

Access Holdings Merges Sigma, FGPL for Formidable PFA Business

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Sigma Pensions

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

To create a formidable pension funds administration (PFA) business in Nigeria, Access Holdings Plc has merged its subsidiary, First Guarantee Pension Limited (FGPL), with Sigma Pensions Limited.

The marriage between the two PFAs was made possible after Access Holdings acquired an indirect equity stake in Sigma.

Recall that in October, the company announced that it was buying a stake in Sigma to revolutionise the PFA sector.

On Thursday, a court approved the merger between the firm and FGPL, giving room for the organisations to become one and offer innovative products to customers.

A notice signed by the group company secretary of Access Holdings, Mr Sunday Ekwochi, confirmed the development.

“Sequel to our announcement on October 25, 2022, Access Holdings Plc, trading as Access Corporation, today announces the completion of its acquisition of an indirect equity stake in Sigma and the merger of its subsidiary, FGPL, with Sigma.

“Following the sanction of the scheme of merger between Sigma and FGPL by the Federal High Court on December 1, 2022, FGPL has been dissolved without winding up, leaving Sigma as the surviving entity,” a part of the statement dated Friday, December 2, 2022.

“Following the successful completion of the merger, our plan is to leverage the synergies of these entities, as well as the corporation’s expansive distribution network, strong risk management culture and best-in-class governance standards to create a formidable pension funds administration business,” the group chief executive of Access Holdings, Mr Herbert Wigwe, stated.

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Economy

FrieslandCampina Buoys Unlisted Securities Market by 1.11%

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FrieslandCampina

By Adedapo Adesanya

The NASD Over-the-Counter (OTC) Securities Exchange returned to the positive zone on Friday, December 2, as it appreciated by 1.11 per cent at the close of business.

This was driven by a gain in the stock price of FrieslandCampina Wamco Nigeria Plc. The company appreciated by N5.29 price to close at N66.63 per share versus the previous day’s price of N61.34 per share.

This outweighed the 1 Kobo loss recorded by UBN Property Plc during the session as the price of the property investment company went down to 91 Kobo per unit from the preceding session’s 92 Kobo.

When the market closed for the day, the total value of the unlisted securities market increased by N10.27 billion to N933.71 billion from N923.44 billion.

In the same vein, the NASD Unlisted Securities Index (NSI) stretched by 7.82 basis points to 710.58 basis points from the 702.76 basis points in the previous session.

During the session, there was a surge in the volume of securities by 140,993.7 per cent as investors exchanged 2.2 million units, in contrast to the previous day’s 14,508 units.

Likewise, the value of shares traded at the session ballooned by 1,526.6 per cent to N10.7 million from the N657,534.75 recorded a day earlier, while the number of deals improved by 400 per cent to 20 deals from four deals.

When the market closed for the day, AG Mortgage Bank Plc was the most traded stock by volume (year-to-date) with 2.3 billion units valued at N1.2 billion, Central Securities Clearing System (CSCS) Plc occupied second place with 687.8 million units worth N14.3 billion, while Lighthouse Financials Services Plc was in third place with 224.7 million units valued at N112.3 million.

Also, CSCS Plc ended the day as the most traded stock by value (year-to-date) by trading 687.8 million units worth N14.3 billion, VFD Group Plc was in second place with 29.1 billion units valued at N7.7 billion, and FrieslandCampina WAMCO Plc was in third place after selling 16.8 million units worth N1.9 billion.

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