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Economy & Politics

AfCFTA delay: A bane to Africa’s $3.4 trillion economic bloc

Wamkele Mene, revealed that the implementation of the AfCFTA agreement will not begin on July 1st, 2020 as planned due to disruptions of the pandemic

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AfCFTA,,Take-off of Africa Free Trade Zone suffers set back

According to local media reports, the newly elected Secretary-General of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) secretariat, Wamkele Mene, revealed that the implementation of the AfCFTA agreement will not begin on July 1st, 2020 as planned due to disruptions caused by the global pandemic. We recall the agreement which entered its operational phase on July 7, 2019, was expected to kick start in July 2020, following the ratification by 54 of all 55 African countries.

It was also reported that the AU summit which was scheduled to hold in South Africa on 30th May to encourage trade negotiators to complete their bargaining on tariff reductions, rules of origin, and other necessary regulations has been postponed.

READ MORE: The good, bad and ugly of low oil prices for Nigeria

The AfCFTA agreement, which is aimed at removing trade barriers and in turn boosting intra-Africa trade, was brokered by African Union (AU) and signed on by 44 of its 55 member states in Kigali, Rwanda on March 21, 2018. President Muhammadu Buhari, in July 2019, after initially withdrawing assent, signed the agreement at the 12th Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union in the Niger Republic.

The agreement requires members to remove tariffs from 90% of goods traded, allowing free access to commodities, goods, and services across the continent. According to International Monetary Fund (IMF), the elimination of tariffs could boost trade in Africa by 15-25% in the medium term. Once operational, the agreement is expected to create a US$3.4 trillion economic bloc, connecting 1.3 billion people across Africa, which would make it the largest trading bloc since the World Trade Organization was formed in 1994.

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(READ MORE: Manufacturers, construction companies to receive waivers from Lagos State during lockdown ease-up phase)

Specifically for Nigeria, the agreement was expected to open up the African market for key manufacturing companies in the country to support export sales whilst also raising the prospects of attracting foreign direct investment across the value chain and different compartments in the manufacturing sector.

Although the delay in implementation implies these benefits will not be seen in the short to medium term, we think it gives the country ample time to accelerate investment in critical infrastructure that will reduce the cost of producing goods locally and improve the competitiveness of local manufacturers.

In our view, African countries with the requisite infrastructure needed for large scale manufacturing activities will be better placed to attract foreign capital from multinational companies who are seeking to establish manufacturing hubs into Africa to take advantage of economies of scale as well as the benefit associated with the absence of regional taxes made possible by AfCFTA.

 


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Economy & Politics

FG needs to focus on business environment reforms – Sanusi

While speaking at the Kadinvest 5.0 Summit in Kaduna, the former CBN Governor gave salient suggestions to revamping the economy.

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FG needs to focus on Business environment reforms- Sanusi

Former CBN Governor, HH Muhammadu Sanusi II has said the Nigerian government needs to focus on reforms that enable a better business environment and also called for economic diversification through maximizing technology as means to generate revenue away from crude oil.

Muhammadu Sanusi II disclosed this at the Kadinvest 5.0 Summit in Kaduna on Tuesday morning. Sanusi said the Nigerian government’s role in the economy should be small, both in absolute and relative terms. Sanusi cited Nigeria’s GDP per capita and tax revenue per capita, at $2,400 and $75 respectively, while development spending is just $36 compared to Kenya at $280 tax revenue per capita, and development spending of $280, despite having 90% of Nigeria’s GDP per capita at $2,151.

“Government needs to multiply its tax revenue, the government needs to spend on business environment reforms,” he said.

(READ MORE: Can Agriculture replace Oil in Nigeria?)

Solutions for Nigeria:

He said that the diversification made colonial Nigeria an economic success, based on the trading sector and the diversity of Nigeria’s export base, including palm oil, groundnuts, cocoa, tin, hides and cotton, and others. He added that the diversity of export meant Nigeria was less vulnerable to terms of trade shocks driven by one export in particular.

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“Nigeria has suffered boom and burst periods due to oil valuations. It affects us in direct and personal ways. The government needs to understand the importance of wrong and adverse economic decisions on the human being,” he said.

READ: Emirates Airlines banned from operating in Nigeria

Sanusi cited inflation numbers, saying Nigeria ignored inflation numbers of 2%, instead of breaking down the CPI and seeing how it affects millions of people who spend on food from minimum wages and how a 2% inflation growth wipes out earnings.

(READ MORE: Has the President erred in stopping CBN from funding food imports?)

He compared Nigeria’s growth in the past 40 years with countries similar to countries like Malaysia. He added that Malaysia’s export base has been diversified from commodities to manufactured goods in the past 30 years.

By 1979, Malaysia’s top 2 exports were Crude Rubber and Cork and Wood. By the year 2000, Malaysia’s top 2 exports were Electrical Machinery and Office machines/Automated Data Processing equipment. Malaysia’s GDP per capita grew in the same period from $41 to $4,045. Compared to Nigeria’s GDP per capita, which increased from $345- $2,655 from 1985-2015, but failed to diversify export base as Crude Oil was Nigeria’s top export for the period.

“We were growing, but we did not diversify and that explains the huge level of poverty. It also explains the vulnerability of the economy to shocks,” he said.

Sanusi added that the failure to diversify explains the relativity of Nigeria’s slow pace, compared to Nigeria’s growth for the same period.“We have not moved in all these years. This is the difference between us and Asia, they moved!”

(READ MORE: Sanusi gets another major appointment)

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On growth and structural change:

Sanusi made a case for a change of mindset with technology adaptation. He added that the wide usage of smartphones does not mean Nigeria has leapfrogged development, as we are not a producer of technology but primarily, a consumer.

He added that Nigeria is yet to leverage on the investments in the telecoms sector. “Infrastructure in Africa has become increasingly decoupled from tech training. Someone who uses a smartphone to produce a Nollywood movie is producing! We need to invest in human capital to boost technology innovation, the smartphone is a ticket to wealth… Every excuse Nigeria has to not grow, Indonesia and Malaysia had. We need to move away from a consuming attitude( with technology) to production,”

(READ MORE: Why Africans are fast using Bitcoin for payment transfers)

On Power generation for productivity:

“In a low-income environment, income elasticity is far more important than price elasticity. People would pay for electricity if they could use it to earn,” he said. “Look at electricity as an economic resource, look at how much you could make. There is a difference between not earning a thing and earning something.”

He cited how China focuses on two major metrics, which are; the number of employed and the number of those with access to electricity, citing the per capita contribution of electricity to production needed to move people away from poverty.

READ: Nami eyes N4 trillion from extractive sector to meet President Buhari’s unusual target

He encouraged skilled jobs that leverage technology, which would enable growth and also remove the pressure of Oil money on the states.

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“Youths need an environment that has been created to give them skills. We need to invest in broadband as an economic resource,” he said citing the importance of skill transfers in developing broadband infrastructure.

(READ MORE: Shell to focus on Nigeria, Gulf of Mexico and others as it seeks to cut 40% of costs)

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On patterns for structural changes:

Sanusi said East Asia has moved from agriculture to manufacturing and later services, majorly from the informal to the formal sector. However, in Nigeria, the bulk of a similar change has been in the informal sector.

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“Manufacturing GDP in Africa has fallen from 14% in 1990 to 10.1% today. Formal job creation has been modest. This is partly because of a mistaken view that Africa can simply leapfrog manufacturing to become a service-based economy. We have declining activity, while the rest of the world has increased activity”.

READ: Nigeria to lure foreign investors with attractive tax incentives 

He added that an enlightened industrial policy will translate to meaningful job creation. He concluded that Nigeria needs to link infrastructure development to economic growth. “You have to make sure your projects are linked, you don’t just build a road here, a rail line there, an airport there without knowing how there are going to translate into an economy.”

He also mentioned that Nigeria’s Public Debt has risen, and due to high inflation he cannot see how the CBN can keep expanding its balance sheet.  He urged the FG to spend more time creating the environment through reforms that will attract the investments while also fixing the balance sheet.

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Economy & Politics

CBN reduces MPR from 12.5% to 11.5%

The Governor of the CBN has announced the reduction of MPR from 12.5% to 11.5%.

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CBN Vs NESG: Waving the white flag for the benefit of Nigerians, Exchange Rate Unification: CBN devalues official rate to N380/$1, Nigerian banks have written off N1.9 trillion impaired loans in past 4 years, CBN sandbox operations, Stirling Trust Company Limited

The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC), of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), has voted to reduce the Monetary Policy Rate (MPR), from 12.5% to 11.5%. This was disclosed by Governor, CBN, Godwin Emefiele, while reading the communique at the end of the MPC meeting on Tuesday.

READ: This is a copy of the Self-Certification form govt. wants targeted account holders to fill

The committee retained CRR at 27.5%, stating that the recent inflationary pressures is not driven by monetary policies, rather as a result of structural policies.

Highlights of the Committee’s decision

  • Reduce the MPR by 100 basis points, from 12.5% to 11.5%
  • Adjust asymmetric corridor, from +200/-500 to +100/-700 basis points around the MPR
  • Retain CRR at 27.5%
  • Retain liquidity ratio at 30%

Explore the Nairametrics Research Website for Economic and Financial Data

According to Emefiele, the Committee reviewed the choices before it, bearing in mind its primary mandate of price stability, and the need to support the recovery of output growth. Consequently, the Committee noted that the likely action aimed to address the rise in domestic prices would have been to tighten the stance of policy, as this will not only moderate the upward pressure on prices, but will also attract fresh capital into the economy, and improve the level of the external reserves.

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The Committee however, noted that this decision may stifle the recovery of output growth, and drive the economy further into contraction.

On easing the stance of policy

The MPC was of the view that this action would provide cheaper credit to improve aggregate demand, stimulate production, reduce unemployment, and support the recovery of output growth.

In addition, the Committee noted the tendency of an asymmetric response to downward price adjustments by ‘Other Depository Corporations’, thus undermining the overall beneficial impact of a reduction, to the cost of capital.

After all considerations, members were of the opinion that the option to loose will complement the Bank’s commitment to sustain the trajectory of the economic recovery, and reduce the negative impact of COVID-19.
He also stated that, liquidity injections are expected to stimulate credit expansion to the critically impacted sectors of the economy, and offer impetus for output growth and economic recovery.

Based on the foregoing, the Committee decided to reduce the MPR by 100 basis points to 11.5% and adjust the asymmetric corridor to +100/-700 around the MPR.

MPC projects economic growth

Recall, that the Nigerian economy contracted by 6.1% (year-on-year) in the second quarter of the year, as a result of the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The MPC however, projects a positive growth in the last quarter or at least Q1 2021.

“With a persistent focus on activities meant to reverse the contraction, the MPC projects growth at positive levels in Q4 2020, or latest by Q1 2021, based on the anticipated positive results from the coordinated and sustained interventions by both the monetary and fiscal authorities.”

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Economy & Politics

Godwin Obaseki wins Edo State governorship election

Incumbent governor, Godwin Obaseki emerged winner in the Edo State gubernatorial election.

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Oil theft gulped $1.35 billion in first six months - Obaseki 

Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC) has declared Godwin Obaseki the winner of the Edo State gubernatorial election today.

Mr. Obaseki will return as the Governor of the state for a second term.

The results were declared by INEC on Sunday afternoon after the results were counted from all LGA’s on Saturday.

Obaseki had 307,955 votes, which was enough to be declared a clear winner over Ize-Iyamu’s 223,619 votes.

Obaseki took to his Twitter handle to thank the people of Edo State for their votes. He stated,

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“Words fail me in saluting our teeming supporters who displayed immense courage in the face of threats, intimidation and brutalization. The collective will of Edo people made it possible for us to triumph over godfatherism. Congratulations to all Edo people. This is our victory!”

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