Friday, 19 February 2016

As Naira Further Tumbles To 391/dollar & 440/Pounds Sterling - These Are Nigerians Benefiting From The Fall Of The Naira

The naira tumbled further significantly at the parallel market on Thursday, hitting 391 against the dollar as foreign exchange scarcity continues to batter the economy of Africa’s largest oil exporter. The currency has entered a free-fall mode against the dollar at the black market, having lost 26 per cent of its value in less than two weeks. 

The naira had exchange for one dollar at 372 on the streets of Lagos, Abuja and other major cities on Wednesday. The local currency, which closed at 310 against the greenback last Monday, has been falling consistently and significantly in the past 11 days. Forex dealers and financial experts linked the persistent fall of the naira to panic buying of the dollar and other major hard currencies by importers, individuals and businessmen. Bureaux De Change operators in Marina, Ikeja and Apapa and Abuja told our correspondent on Thursday that there were no signs yet that the rising demand for forex especially.

The Naira has plunged more than 70% in the black market when compared to the parallel market since the Central Bank adopted its “managed float” exchange rate system that saw it introduce quasi capital controls as well as restricting the purchase and sale of forex at its official window. The widening premium between the parallel market rates and the official/interbank rates have increased the activities of speculators and round tripping further worsening the currency situation.

It’s however not just speculators who have benefited the most from the misfortunes of the naira. Several other market participants are also benefiting every single day the naira plummets against the dollar at the parallel market. We take a look at some of them;
Diaspora Nigerians

This is perhaps the best time to live and work outside Nigeria especially if your income is in dollars. Dami, a Nigerian who lives abroad reveals that she and her husband thought rather than wait till summer, they decide to visit Nigeria now that the exchange rate favours them. Sensing blood, many of them exchange their dollars in little tranches believing that today’s rate will always be cheaper than tomorrows. Some believe this is the best opportunity to buy land and houses as the value of the dollar has now risen by about 70% against the Naira while property prices have been somewhat depressed.

Commercial banks

Banks have been under pressure since the price of oil began its devastating fall in July 2014. With huge exposures to the oil and gas sector they have seen their loans increasingly become risky with borrowers missing out on their obligations. However, they have also posted massive gains from forex as can be seen in their income statements at the end of financial year 2014 and the first 9 months of 2015. Most people who purchase items online have also confirmed that banks charge them as much as N290 to the dollar even thought the CBN pegs the rate at around N199.

BDC Operators

These are perhaps the biggest benefactors of Nigeria’s forex woes. The CBN in January banned sale of forex to BDC operators accusing them of buying forex from the CBN at N199 and then selling at the black market. The CBN also noted that the BDC’s buy dollars from the CBN at N197 only to sell to their customers at N250. According to the CBN it’s no wonder that BDC have risen “from a mere 74 in 2005 to 2,786 BDCs today. In addition, the CBN receives close to 150 new applications for BDC licenses every month.”


Businesses engaged in exports are also huge benefactors of the declining exchange rate. Revenues from their exports officially should route through the CBN as export proceeds however it is understood that some of them move a chunk of that to the black market. With gains as high as 50% most of them find it hard to resist the lure of selling their hoard at the black markets rather than at the official window.

Friends and associates of the CBN

Reports also suggest that people close to the management of the CBN or indeed the government are also befitting from the fall of the Naira. They get preferential treatment from the CBN by buying at official rates rather than at the black market rates where a lot of Nigerians go to. The CBN has also expressed its desire to sell forex to businesses it perceived are creating jobs at home rather than to cater for “irresponsible demand” which the CBN opines are what other importers of “non essential” goods and services engage in.

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