Fears Rise Over Naira Devaluation

As uncertainties over further devaluation of the naira by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) continues, foreign exchange traders are threading cautiously with their funds, avoiding speculative transactions.

Traders yesterday refused to offer quotes on the official foreign exchange market after the apex bank allowed naira to weaken by five percent at last auction.

 

“No quotes for the naira were available on Nigeria’s official market yesterday after the Central Bank allowed the currency to weaken five percent at a retail auction in a move to unify the currency’s multiple exchange rates,” dealers said.

Currency traders refused to quote prices for the naira amid confusion about the impact of the apex bank’s adjustment.

 

The CBN, as the biggest forex supplier at the weekend, asked commercial banks to bid at N380 per dollar, five percent above its official rate of N360. The naira was exchanging at N461 to dollar at the parallel market, which is N101 above the official rate.

The apex bank has continuously intervened through its periodic supply of dollars in the forex market, offering an average of $100 million weekly via the Secondary Market Intervention Sales (SMIS) Wholesale Window to small businesses.

 

Still, the CBN has come under pressure to further devalue the naira as dollar demand by manufacturers and importers rises.

In an emailed note to foreign investors, Trading Desk Manager at AZA, the global investment, and research firm, MuregaMungai, said rising dollar demand is heaping pressure on the CBN for another round of devaluations, last seen in March, in a bid to bolster exports.

He said: “The CBN hopes to boost financial stability amid new projections from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that Africa’s oil-producing countries led by Nigeria could lose $34 billion in revenue due to the crash in oil earlier this year.

 

While crude recovered to above $40 a barrel this week, the naira slid from N460 to N462 per dollar. We foresee sustained negative pressure.”

The CBN had in May devalued the naira to N380 to a dollar. The devaluation came after over three years of push from financial market managers, the World Bank, and International Monetary Fund (IMF) for the local currency to be devalued.

 

They insisted that with the drop in forex reserves and decline in Nigeria’s dollar earnings following tumbling crude oil prices, Nigeria had no option but to devalue its currency.

Aside devaluing the naira, the CBN also adopted a unified exchange rate, and pushed the official rate of the naira to N376 to dollar for International Money Transfer Operators rate to banks; N377 to dollar for banks’ dollar sale to CBN and pegged CBN’s dollar sales to banks at N378.

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