Nigeria’s Current Sources of FX Inflows Unreliable—Emefiele
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele, has expressed worry over the sources of foreign exchange (FX) inflows in Nigeria, describing them as unreliable as they are prone to external forces, which hurt the nation’s economy.
Nigeria, the largest economy in Africa, has struggled to strengthen its legal tender, the Naira, in the forex market due to a shortage of foreign currencies to meet the demand of end-users.
Despite the prices of crude oil rising on the global market, the country’s external reserves have continued to deplete because the apex bank dips its hands into the purse to defend the local currency in the FX market.
Nigeria relies on crude oil sales to earn forex but it has not been able to take advantage of the recent rise in the price of the commodity as well as the war in Ukraine instigated by Russia.
A few months ago, the CBN, in an effort to change the narrative, launched an initiative called CBN RT 200 aimed at generating $200 billion from non-oil exports in the coming years.
The central bank was in Lagos on Thursday for a Non-Oil Export Summit and the CBN chief stated that country’s foreign exchange challenges were beyond the powers of monetary policy, noting that efforts are being made to manage both the demand and supply side to meet forex obligations.
Attributing the current challenges of the Nigerian economy to a combination of local and global factors such as the COVID-19 pandemic, delays in global logistic value chains and local security challenges, he expressed concern that most of Nigeria’s current sources of FX inflows were unreliable and prone to fluctuations of global economic developments.
Mr Emefiele noted that the global economic challenges had impacted food production among others and had exerted undue pressure on the economy, thereby exposing the fragility of the Nigerian economy and making macroeconomic management very difficult.
“These problems call for urgent design and steadfast implementation of other supportive, structural, and complementary policies that are broad-based, coordinated and focused on complementing the work of the monetary authority,” he noted.
Reiterating the need for a more diversified economy, Mr Emefiele said Nigeria could be great without crude oil, the global price of which the country had no control over.
He, therefore, urged all stakeholders to regroup by working together to reposition Nigeria on a growth trajectory by taking diversification of the economy much more seriously, emphasising that Nigeria had very little choice left but to look inwards and find innovative solutions to its challenges.
In order to avoid sudden adjustments to Nigeria’s economic life, he said there was the need to focus on strategies that can help the country earn more stable and sustainable inflows of foreign exchange.
“We would need to follow the best practices of other countries and ensure that we protect ourselves a little bit from factors that are beyond our immediate control. This is the time to start working in synergy for the good of our nation.
“This is the time for us as a Banking Community to do more and support exporters who have been flying the flag of Nigeria in the international market space,” Mr Emefiele declared.
Although he admitted the enormity of the ultimate goal of $200 billion in non-oil exports over the medium term, Mr Emefiele expressed confidence that the goal was attainable, given the fact that many countries less endowed than Nigeria had achieved much in the field of agriculture.
To underscore his point, he said within a short period of implementing the Non-Oil FX Rebate Scheme, the country had recorded a significant increase in non-oil export repatriation, adding that eligible exporters had been paid over N3.5 billion in rebates.
In his remarks, the Governor of Lagos State, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, lauded the CBN and other actors in the banking sector for supporting the efforts by the Federal Government and states, especially Lagos, to boost growth in the economy.
Mr Sanwo-Olu expressed optimism that the Lekki Deep Seaport, which he described as the largest in West Africa, will be handed over for use at the end of 2022, thereby providing enormous opportunities to exporters to ply their trade and by extension improve the export earnings of the country.
As part of efforts to decongest the Apapa and Tin Can Island Ports in Lagos, the Governor said the state government was awaiting approval for work to begin on the Badagry Ports in the Western part of Lagos.