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Nigeria Economic Outlook Threatened by Coronavirus Outbreak

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By Lukman Otunuga, Senior Research Analyst at FXTM,

The dramatic and fast-moving consequences of the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak threaten an otherwise resilient outlook for Nigeria’s economy, following GDP results for Q4 showing an expansion of 2.55 percent. The growth was the highest seen since 2015 and above the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) 2.1 percent forecast.

The economy is supported by the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) policies to boost credit growth like hiking the loan-to-deposit ratio and other monetary policy tools. On top of that, Oil production increased to two million barrels per day amid recovering global Oil prices versus 1.0 million bpd in Q3.

However, since then, risks to the economy have multiplied.

Like many other economies at the time of writing, Nigeria is vulnerable to the spread of the COVID-19 virus in economic and health terms because one of its main trading partners is the epidemic’s epicenter China. For the time being, the sizable manufacturing sector in China has been slowed by large-scale workforce disruptions and it is expected that GDP growth for the quarter will be pressured amid a fall in business confidence.

While it is too early to tell the precise extent of the slowdown, the impact on the supply chain and trading with China’s trading partners is already evident. Nigeria’s crude Oil exports to China fell in February amid weaker Oil prices as the outlook for global Oil demand weakens.

Nigeria’s Q1 GDP remains exposed to external uncertainties in the form of weaker Oil prices, the coronavirus COVID-10 outbreak, slowing growth in China and the global economy.

Focusing on the global coronavirus outbreak, so far there are over 83,000 confirmed cases with over 2800 deaths. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has identified Nigeria as one of its top 13 priority countries because of the direct links and travel volume to-and-from China. It is positive that Nigeria’s authorities are taking measures to stop the virus spreading, but the risks remain.

Since the onset of the virus outbreak early in the year, Oil prices have slipped over 15 percent amid demand-side concerns, the USD has appreciated against G10 and emerging market currencies against a background of risk aversion and Gold has jumped to fresh seven-year highs.

If it continues to spread, the virus outbreak and subsequent slump in demand from China present major risks to the Nigerian economy. Crude Oil revenues account for less than 10 percent of GDP but remain the biggest source of foreign exchange for the nation, 90 percent of export sales over 50 percent of government revenues.

Falling Oil prices would reduce foreign exchange reserves and ultimately complicate the CBN’s efforts to defend the Naira, meaning potentially heightened pressures on inflation and consumption with an eventual impact on growth. Lower Oil prices also impact the 2020 budget which was based on 2.18 million bpd at an Oil price benchmark of $57 per barrel.

Moreover, China is one of Nigeria’s biggest trading partners with total trade flows in Q3 2019 worth over $3.2 billion. It is important for the economy for the virus outbreak to be brought under control because if trade flows decline on the back of slowing growth in China, the impacts are likely to be felt in Nigeria.

The situation may prompt a greater focus on monetary and fiscal policy to shield the economy from external risks. The CBN meet in March but the economy remains under inflationary pressure so it is unlikely we’ll see an interest rate cut. Instead, the central bank may implement more unconventional tools to stimulate the economy.

Finally, it is even more clear that diversification is the key to reducing Nigeria’s reliance on Oil revenues and reducing the risks to growth. On the upside, there is still a possibility that the virus outbreak will be brought under control, meaning a return to full power for China and Asia and a relief to health authorities and policy makers in Nigeria and other countries.


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Ugo Onwuaso is an ICT enthusiast. He believes technology should be used for general good. He holds a Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree from the Lagos state University.

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CBN Pulls Rate Cut Trigger, King Dollar Returns

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By Lukman Otunuga, Senior Research Analyst at FXTM,

In a move that caught investors off-guard this week, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) slashed interest rates by 100 basis points bringing the MPR to 11.5%. Given how inflation has been above target since 2015, rates were expected to remain unchanged for the rest of 2020 and possibly early 2021.

 

The question on the mind of many is whether the rate cut will achieve the desired effect by stimulating consumption and economic growth? Ongoing border closures and disruptions created by COVID-19 have pushed inflation to levels not seen since March 2018 above 13.20% while a drop in the production and price of Oil continues to rub salt into the wound. While looser monetary policy could support growth, it may come at the cost of rising inflation and weaker Naira.

 

Over the past few months, central banks across the globe have deployed unprecedented measures to defend their respective economies against the coronavirus menace. However, fiscal policy has been identified as the sharper tool with governments across the world providing a critical lifeline to keep the wheels of their respective economies rolling.

 

Outside of Nigeria, King Dollar made a return by appreciating against every single G10 currency. In times of uncertainty, everyone wants a juicy piece of the world’s most liquid currency. As coronavirus cases rise in Europe and other parts of the world, the flight to safety is likely to boost appetite for the Dollar. This is bad news for many emerging markets currencies, especially those with high Dollar-denominated debt.

 

On the commodity side, Oil prices remain heavily influenced by demand-side factors and the state of the global economy. Prices are likely to remain stuck around the $40 regions in the near term, especially If another round of possible lockdowns hit Oil demand. Looking at the technicals, WTI Crude is under pressure on the daily charts. If prices are unable to break away from the sticky $40 regions, the next key point of interest remains around $38. A weekly close above $41.50 could pave a path towards $43.


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NCC Arrests Man for Hacking into DSTV System

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Nigeria Copyright Commission (NCC), has arrested one Mr Aliu Olalekan, for allegedly hacking into DSTV system and watching the channels free without subscription.

NCC Arrests Man for Hacking into DSTV System

Mr Matthew Ojo, NCC Director in the Lagos Directorate Office said this while speaking with newsmen in Lagos, on Tuesday.

He said that the suspect used to watch DSTV channels free without subscription on his Android phone via an app which he downloaded on google play store.

“This suspect distributed the know-how to his telegram followers and on his blog with the aim of gaining more followers and viewership on his blog and makes more money through google ad-sense.

“The operation was based on surveillance which had earlier been carried out by the Multi-choice team and verified by a copyright inspector, ” he said.

He added that the arrest was made in collaboration with a team of copyright inspectors led by the Head of Enforcement Department, Mr Charles Amudipe.

Others included; a team from Multichoice Nigeria led by Mr Umar Ibrahim and policemen from Lagos Command Headquarters, Ikeja.

Ojo said that the joint team conducted an anti-piracy operation at the premises of the culprit in Amukoko, Lagos.

According to him, the suspect was contacted on phone by a member of the operation team on the disguise of patronising him. “The suspect came out to meet the caller and in the process of discussion, he was apprehended.

“The suspect took the team to his resident. The squad paraded his one-room apartment and recovered his laptop and phones used in perpetrating the ungodly act. “He was arrested and brought to the copyright commission office for further investigation, ” he said.

Ojo said that, on getting to the commission’s office, the statement of the suspect was taken and the inventory of items seized from him taken. He said that investigation on the matter was still ongoing and if found guilty the suspect will be charged to court.

 


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NCC, Digital Encode Support NITRA Innovative Tech Forum On Post-COVID-19 Strategies

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The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Nigeria’s telecommunications regulator and Digital Encode, Cybersecurity and Compliance advisory company, have indicated interest to partner with the Nigeria Information Technology Reporters Association (NITRA), the national umbrella body of ICT reporters, as it organizes a forum that will x-ray the industry’s future plans for ICT growth post pandemic era.

 

The event, slated to hold on October 15, 2020, will seek to discuss the needs for a fortified ICT sector after the COVID-19 era, and the level of preparedness of ICT stakeholders to embrace the challenge of being pivotal to the stability and growth of all other sectors.

 

A statement from NITRA National Secretariat in Lagos indicates that due to the pandemic and need to observe the COVID-19 protocol on social distancing, the event will be held via a Webinar.

 

This year’s theme, “Multi-stakeholder Approach To National Recovery Post-Pandemic”, is in line with the annual event’s generic theme, ‘NITRA Innovative Tech Forum’, a contribution by NITRA to the development of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) innovations and policies in Nigeria.

 

Prof. Umar Danbatta, executive vice chairman, NCC is expected to deliver the keynote speech at the event and will throw more light on Federal Government’s plans, programmes and policies on post-pandemic strategies using ICT.

 

Dr. Adewale Obadare and Dr. Seyi Akindeinde, founders of Digital Encode, while accepting to support the event expressed their readiness to offer their expertise in Cybersecurity for organisations to prepare against cyber- attacks with the new normal.

 

They will also highlight areas that are high risks that need fortification in terms of cybersecurity.

 

Speaking on the event, Mr. Chike Onwuegbuchi, national chairman, NITRA, noted that as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to leave its negative trails across the globe, economic reboot for countries will not only depend on how well they readapt to the new normal, but also more on their recovery plans.

 

According to him: “While the federal government has consistently expressed its willingness to set all policies in place to engender growth, and accelerated implementation of these policies, private sector firms have also shown great hunger for the task ahead in post-COVID-19 era.

 

However, the question that needs to be answered is whether all stakeholders are ready for the required task ahead.”

 

The event will also offer participating companies opportunities to publicize some of their individual efforts at contributing to reacting a soft landing or lifeline for SMEs and other ancillary companies as the pandemic threatens their survival.

 

Digital Encode is a multi-award winning and leading consulting and integration firm that specializes in the design, management, and security of business-critical networks, telecommunications environments and other Information Technology (IT) infrastructures.

 


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