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ECONOMY

Foreign reserves hit ‘new high’ of $46bn

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Data from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) show that the foreign reserves grew by $6.7 billion between January and the beginning of March.

Confirming the data on Sunday, Isaac Okorafor, acting director, corporate communications department, said the foreign reserves stood at $39.3 billion at the beginning of the year.

“The reserves at the beginning of 2018 stood at $39.3 billion, then rose to $42.8 in February before hitting the new high of $46 billion,” the statement read.

Okorafor said the continued growth of the reserves was as a result of the bank’s effort to discourage unnecessary importation; inflow from oil and non-oil exports, as well as the huge inflows through the investors and exporters window of the foreign exchange market, which he said had attracted over $33 billion since April 2017, when it was created.

The CBN official said the decision to restrict foreign exchange for some 41 items has made a significant impact on the status of the reserves.

This, he said, has boosted the supply of local substitutes to imported goods and created jobs locally.

“The bank’s interventions in the foreign exchange window had also helped to moderate the pressure on the forex reserves by sustaining liquidity in the market and boosting production and trade,” he said.

Speaking at the annual bankers’ dinner of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) that held in Lagos in November 2017, Godwin Emefiele, CBN governor, had projected that Nigeria’s external reserves would hit the $40 billion mark in 2018.

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ECONOMY

NNPC: Funding plan for AKK gas pipeline project near conclusion

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The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) says funding plans for the Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano (AKK) gas pipeline project are almost complete.

Maikanti Baru, NNPC group managing director, made the disclosure at the 30th edition of Gas Technology Conference in Barcelona, Spain on Tuesday.

The AKK gas pipeline is designed to enable gas connectivity between the east, west and north, which is currently inadequate.

It would also enable gas supply and utilisation to key commercial centres in the Northern corridor of Nigeria with the attendant positive spin-off on power generation and industrial growth.

Represented by Saidu Mohammed, NNPC chief operating officer, gas & power, Baru said tremendous progress had been made towards securing funding for the project during President Muhammadu Buhari’s last visit to Beijing, China.

According to a statement by Ndu Ughamadu, NNPC spokesperson, Baru said there is a viable payback structure for the facility, noting that the financial partners are willing to cooperate with the state oil firm.

“Once you have the whole nation covered with a gas grid, industries will naturally spring up along the way and litter the entire country. That is our target in the long run,” the statement quoted Baru as saying.

Speaking on the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) Train 7 project, Baru said the nation’s abundant gas reserves portend positive developments in the sector.

“We cannot consume out our gas resources in the next 50 years, even if we generate as high as 40,000mw for power,” he said.

“We are happy that in the NLNG is a credible company capable of competing in the international arena.”

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ECONOMY

BREAKING: Nigeria’s inflation rises for the first time after 18-month decline

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Nigeria’s inflation has risen for the first since it started its decline in January 2017.

This is according to the latest inflation report published by the National Bureau of Statistics on Friday.

According to the report, the rate at which prices of goods and services increased in August rose to 11.23% from 11.14%.

“The consumer price index, (CPI) which measures inflation increased by 11.23 percent (year-on-year) in August 2018. This is 0.09 percent points higher than the rate recorded in July 2018 (11.14) percent and represents the first year on year rise in headline inflation following eighteenth consecutive disinflation in headline inflation,” the report read.

“Increases were recorded in all COICOP divisions that yielded the Headline index. On month-on-month basis, the Headline index increased by 1.05 percent in August 2018, down by 0.08 percent points from the rate recorded in July 2018 (1.13) percent).”

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ECONOMY

Nigeria, other West African countries fail to meet criteria for single currency

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Nigeria and five other West African countries have been unable to meet the criteria for the proposed single currency for countries in the zone.

Ngozi Egbuna, West African Monetary Institute (WAMI) director general made this known on Thursday in Abuja at the 37th meeting of the Committee of Governors of the Central Banks of the West African Monetary Zone.

The West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ) consists of The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) had approved the reduction of the convergence criteria from 11 to six.

At present, the three primary criteria are a budget deficit of not more than three per cent; average annual inflation of less than 10 per cent with a long-term goal of not more than five per cent by 2019; and gross reserves that could finance at least three months of imports.

The three secondary criteria are public debt/gross domestic product of not more than 70 percent; central bank financing of budget deficit should not be more than 10 percent of previous year’s tax revenue; and nominal exchange rate variation of plus or minus 10 percent.

Egbuna said a lot of work needs to be done if the 2020 deadline will be met.

She said three countries, The Gambia, Guinea and Nigeria, attained three criteria; while Ghana and Liberia achieved two criteria, and Sierra Leone met one criterion.

Godwin Emefiele, governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, was elected chairman of WAMZ at the meeting.

Addressing delegates, Emefiele said member countries should not be blinded by the desire of a common currency to the adverse factors associated with a unified monetary environment.

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