The total direct remittance inflow into Nigeria has declined considerably, falling by 50% from US$2.04 billion to US$1.01 billion between January and February 20201. This is significantly lower than 2019 levels, as a total of US$23 billion was remitted in 2019, making Nigeria the highest recipient within the sub-Saharan African region2. However, with many of its citizens resident in the diaspora residing in countries that have been severely hit by the COVID-19 pandemic including Spain, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States, their ability to work and thus remit funds has been significantly limited. Given that remittance is a major source of income for vulnerable households in developing countries, this recent development could increase poverty and further widen inequality. In the coming months, remittance flows are expected to continue declining as a recent World Bank report noted that flows to low- and middle-income countries in sub-Saharan Africa will fall by 23.1% in 20202. In order to mitigate against the impact on vulnerable households, the government should provide additional social safety nets for the poor and ensure that the distribution mechanism of the cash transfer programme is efficient and equitable.
May 19, 2020
Nigeria Economic Update (Issue 17)
Latest monthly economic report by the CBN reveals a decline in foreign exchange flows through the CBN. Foreign exchange inflow through the apex bank, dropped Month-on-Month by 21 percent to $2.3 billion in May 2017, occasioned by the fall in from Oil and Non-oil sources during the month.
The Executive council recently approved a three-year external borrowing plan (2016-2018) which specifies external borrowing of approximately $30 billion (to be sourced mostly from MDBs) for infrastructure development. Although, the plan is yet to be approved by the Senate, the planned concessional loans for infrastructural development would imply inflows of foreign exchange which could help moderate the exchange rate volatilities in the near term, and offer potential improvement in business productivity and job creation.
Nigerias external reserves improved in 2017. The reserve stood at approximately $39 billion as at the end of December 2017, up by about 50 percent from the $26 billion at the beginning of the year 20172. The surge in reserve was particularly boosted by increased capital importation, and crude revenue earnings prompted by a relatively higher crude oil price and improved domestic production. Given that the recent uptick in external reserves is still largely associated with improved crude oil price, efforts should be geared towards conserving current reserve gain so as to cushion future external shock. In the medium term, there is need to diversify export earning away from oil so as to mitigate the effects of volatility in crude oil prices.