The recent movements in the dollar-naira exchange rate, following the removal of the currency peg, has stimulated ongoing debate in the media that South Africa has regained its position as the largest economy in Africa. The prevailing notion is that the depreciation of the naira and simultaneous appreciation of the rand against the US dollar implies that South Africa’s GDP has surpassed that of Nigeria. However, this argument needs some re-examination, given that the value of the GDP (in current US$) is sensitive to the choice of exchange rate and GDP figures used for its computation. This piece situates the present argument in the context of recent commodity market crisis and its implications for the two largest economies in Sub-Saharan Africa
Policy Brief & Alerts
According to figures released by the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics, employment growth lagged during the recession period, and worsened unemployment/underemployment rates few quarters after. Specifically, unemployment rate rose to 18.8 percent in 2017Q31, up from 16.2 percent in previous quarter (the recession-exit quarter) and 13.9 percent in corresponding quarter. Disaggregated figures reveal that the number of unemployed and underemployed persons in the labour force increased by 17 percent and 2 percent respectively, to 15.9 million and 18.0 million in 2017Q3, majority of which are young persons within ages 15-34.
The naira depreciated by 4.3 percent to a record low of N313/$ at the interbank market segment on July 29, 2016.Precisely, the lack of liquidity in all FX market segments continues to weaken the naira. In order to increase FOREX liquidity, moderate inflationary pressures, encourage capital inflows and support the naira, the CBN may need to increase the supply of FOREX in the interbank market while simultaneously mopping up idle funds through the sale of securities.
The Naira maintained slight appreciation against the dollar in the review week. At the parallel market, the value of the Naira appreciated week-on-week by 1.6 percent to exchange at N380/$ on May 19, 2017. In addition, inter-bank market rate appreciated slightly by 15kobo to N305.45/$. The appreciation in both segments of the market are favorable effects of the CBNs continued forex supply in the week under review (In a bid to further ease forex liquidity, the CBN pumped a total of $457.3 million on May 15, 2017).