The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) recently announced a ban on the importation of maize/corn1. This ban adds maize to the list of 41 other products some of which include rice, cement, margarine, and palm kernel that had earlier been banned2. The embargo comes as a means to further encourage local production, stimulate economic growth as well as secure local jobs and livelihoods. Available data shows that Nigeria imported 400,000 tons of maize in 2019 the same as it did in 20183. However, forex restrictions on the importation of rice, coupled with the closure of the Nigerian land borders to neighboring countries, has seen the country move from a major importer to the largest producer of rice in Africa.4 By extension, it is expected that the addition of maize to the forex restriction list will help to stimulate its domestic production and thus reduce or eliminate dependence on imported maize. Consequently, this effort is also expected to limit domestic demand for forex and curb the exchange rate volatility.
August 12, 2020
Nigeria Economic Update (Issue 28)
The Naira continued to depreciate in the review week. At the parallel market, naira exchanged for N498/$ on January 27, 2017 and N500/$ on February 3, 2017. Despite the weekly sales of forex to BDCs and the significant improvements in the external reserves, the naira has continued to lose value to other currencies. The pressure on the naira has been triggered by escalating scarcity of forex in the spot market, likely due to forex hoarding. However, in the preceding week, the CBN sold $660 million in forwards contract in an attempt to manage liquidity and stabilize the naira. In the face of growing speculation in the parallel market, the monetary authority should institute mechanisms that would discourage excessive forex hoarding among licensed BDC operators. An initiative that monitors transaction dealings in the parallel market would go a long way in detecting erring BDC operators.