Nigeria reports recession, drop in investment and currency | News | DW | 31.08.2016
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Nigeria reports recession, drop in investment and currency

Africa's leading economy, Nigeria, slid into a recession in the second quarter. A drop in investment and oil prices, currency weakness and a hike in inflation are adding to the country's woes.

Nigeria's National Bureau of Statistics has reported a slowdown across many sectors of Africa's largest economy. The recession has been underscored by a slump in foreign investment. Inflation is hovering around 16.5 percent.

Economic output ran at minus 2.06 percent in the second quarter through to the end of June, the bureau reported on Wednesday. Compared to 2015's second quarter, that represented a 4.4 percent slump.

Estimated oil production at 1.69 million barrels-per-day (BPD) was down by 0.42 million BPD from this year's first quarter, the bureau added.

Dramatic fall in foreign investment

So-called "capital importation" at $647 million (579 million euros) represented a dramatic 76 percent fall when compared to the second quarter of 2015. Foreign investors have become wary over Nigeria's currency peg, the bureau said.

President Muhammadu Buhari's economic adviser Adeyemi Dipeolu blamed the bleak data mostly on "a sharp contraction" in the oil sector, "resulting from vandalism and sabotage."

Buhari's government, which for months had upheld the currency peg, finally devalued the naira in June.

The US dollar bought 313 naira on Wednesday while on the black market traders said the rate was 400 naira. Back in January it was 340 naira.

"We can't get dollars," said one trader in Lagos said.

Deeper structural issues

Analysts said the indicators pointed to an economy troubled by deeper structural issues than just low crude-oil prices or attacks by rebels on oil-production facilities in Nigeria's south.

"Nigeria is very dependent on foreign investment to improve the infrastructure and [to] get the economy back on track we need investor confidence," said John Ashbourne, Africa economist at Capital Economics in London.

BMI research analyst Daniel Richards said uncertain monetary policy over the past 18 months had been the "biggest constraint on growth after lower oil prices."

"You don't have to be an economist to know that any system that allows you to sit in your garden, and with a telephone call make one billion naira without investing a kobo, that system is wrong," said former central bank governor Muhammadu Sanusi.

'Decrepit' economy

In May, Buhari (pictured above launching a new Lagos-Kaduna train link) said when elected last year he had inherited a "decrepit" infrastructure and oil refineries were in a "state of disrepair."

Nigeria - Abuja tomato market

Tomato producers are also coping with a moth plague

In response, Buhari announced plans to diversify the economy and tackle endemic corruption. He accused the previous government of failing to make savings when oil cost more.

Last week, Nigeria's Senate said it had begun an investigation into allegations that food aid had been stolen by officials. The aid had been intended for starving children who had escaped Boko Haram's Islamist insurgency in the nation's northeast.

Major electricity shortage

Dawn Dimowo, an analyst for the consultancy Africa Practice, said Nigeria's sluggishness would continue for "another two years."

Another clamp on investment was Nigeria's faltering electricity production, she said.

Nigeria had to make much "more headway in improving power supply," said BMI analyst Richards. Without added electricity, Nigerian diversification would be near impossible.

ipj/jm (AFP, AP)

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