Import and export activities at the Nigeria’s ports have significantly reduced as a result of the uncertainty trailing the polity at this electioneering period and the postponement of the general elections by INEC. Though the ports are still open, business activities have significantly reduced at the TinCan and Apapa Ports in Lagos, while Calabar, Warri and Port Harcourt seaports are not also faring better due to the uncertainties trailing the elections. The latest shipping position released by the Nigerian Ports Authority showed that 12 out of the 21 ships expected into the Lagos ports between February 19 and March 2nd are carrying cargo. The eight motor vessels awaiting berth at the Lagos pilotage district during this period are empty containers as many of the clearing agents who usually thronged the ports environment for business have vacated the ports; pending the outcome of the elections. The FG had closed the borders between Friday noon and early Saturday morning, causing international trade to be halted for several hours before the postponement of the election.
The CBN injected $210 million into the various segments of the market to sustain its intervention in the Inter-Bank Foreign Exchange Market. According to spokesman, Isaac Okorafor, the regulator offered $100 million as wholesale interventions and allocated $55 million to SMEs as part of interventions, which is in continuation of the bank’s resolve to sustain the high level of stability in the forex market. Another $55 million was allocated to customers requiring foreign exchange for business and personal travels, tuition or medical fees. The CBN was optimistic that the naira would sustain its run against the dollar and other major currencies around the world, considering the level of transparency in the market.
The total value credit from banks to the economy recorded a decline of ₦455 billion from ₦15.58 trillion as of the end of Q3 2018, to ₦15.1 trillion in Q4. According to the NBS, the sector recorded 616,528,697 transactions valued at ₦39.15 trillion through electronic payment confirmation in Q4, showing that NIBSS Instant Payments transactions dominated the volume of transactions. A breakdown of credit to the sectors showed that Oil & Gas and Manufacturing got credit allocation of ₦3.55 trillion and ₦2.23 trillion to record the highest credit allocation as at the period under review. The agricultural, power and energy and construction sectors received ₦610.14 billion, ₦403.37 billion and ₦614.5 billion respectively, as trade and general commerce got ₦1.07 trillion, while credit to the government was put at ₦1.36 trillion. The NBS report noted that as at Q4, 2018, the total number of bank employees increased by 1.80 percent quarter on quarter from 102,821 in Q3 2018 to 104,669.
A new report by Nielsen Africa has showed that Nigeria’s latest Consumer Confidence Index for Q4 2018 marginally dropped one point to 117, while Ghana lost five points to fall 108, presenting a diverse picture of consumer sentiment across West Africa. When it comes to job prospects, 62 percent Nigerians view their prospects as excellent or good (a 6 point increase from the previous quarter) and 31 percent view them as not so good or bad. In terms of the state of their personal finances over the next 12 months, the same amount as the previous quarter (79 percent) say excellent or good. In addition, the number of Nigerian consumers who feel now is a good or excellent time to purchase what they need or want has increased three points to 46 percent. Looking at whether Nigerians have spare cash, exactly half say yes, down five points from the previous quarter. In terms of what their spending priorities are once they meet their essential living expenses, the highest number of consumers (73 percent) would put their spare cash into savings, followed by 71 percent on home improvements and 68 percent who would invest in stocks and mutual funds.