Nigeria has put in place policies to ensure foreign investors that want to repatriate funds can exit the country in an orderly fashion, the central bank said late on Sunday, without giving any details. Foreign investors have sold Nigerian assets at an accelerated pace since February as lockdowns to curb the coronavirus pandemic have stalled economic activity and triggered a crash in the price of oil, Nigeria’s main export. That has put pressure on the naira currency and foreign exchange reserves. Nigeria’s dollar reserve has declined 24% to $34 billion over the last year. Last week, the central bank weakened the naira currency on the futures market, mostly used by foreign investors to hedge against a fall versus the U.S. dollar, by an average of ₦73 across maturities, a signal it expects further depreciation. In a statement late on Sunday, Governor Godwin Emefiele said that where foreign exchange is available, strategic importation or service obligations would take priority, adding that the central bank wanted to galvanise local manufacturing activity. Analysts estimate there is pent up demand between $1.5 billion and $1.8 billion from investors looking to exit Nigeria, whose economy is now forecast to shrink by 3.4% this year.
Seven Nigerian banks: Zenith, Guaranty Trust, Access, United Bank for Africa, FBN Holdings, Fidelity and Union Bank of Nigeria recorded a combined profit after tax of ₦209.16 billion in Q1 2020, according to their unaudited financial results. The breakdown of the reports showed that Zenith Bank led with a profit after tax of ₦50.53 billion for the Q1 ended March 31, 2020, compared to the ₦50.23 billion it recorded in Q1 2019. GTB posted a profit after tax of ₦50.07 billion in Q1 2020, in contrast to ₦49.30 billion in the same period of 2019. Access Bank came third, but with a marginal decrease in its profit after tax by 0.53 percent to ₦40.9 billion in the Q1’20 from ₦41.1 billion in Q1’19. UBA saw its after-tax profit grow by five percent to ₦30.10 billion in Q1’20, compared to the ₦28.67 billion recorded in the corresponding period of 2019. FBN Holdings posted a profit after tax of ₦25.70 billion in Q1’20, as against ₦15.79 billion it recorded in the same period last year. Fidelity Bank’s profit after tax stood at ₦5.86 billion during the period under review, a 1.35 percent drop over the ₦5.94 billion posted in Q1’19. Union Bank’s profit after tax from continued operations in Q1’20 stood at ₦6 billion, up from ₦4.9 billion during the comparable period in 2010. The management of Zenith Bank said the bank’s customer deposit mix re-balancing remains on-track as the group added ₦150 billion in savings account balances in Q1’20, supported by its retail drive. It’s total assets increased by 12 percent from ₦6.35 trillion in December 2019 to close at ₦7.13 trillion in March 2020. Its gross loans grew by 11 percent from ₦2.46 trillion in December 2019 to ₦2.74 trillion in March 2020.
The annual dramatic increase in the rates of malaria transmission and malnourishment in Africa is likely to constitute a stumbling block in the fight against COVID-19 on the continent, Médecins Sans Frontières has said. Speaking with online news medium, HumAngle, via Twitter, te MSF verified handle explained that it would be tougher to deal with all the challenges this year because of inflation, shortages in equipment, and the focusing of healthcare facilities on the COVID-19 response. MSF recommended the promotion of preventive healthcare (prophylaxis) such as malaria chemoprevention. The organisation said travel restrictions, especially in Europe, have led to long delays in the delivery of medical supplies. It is estimated that there are up to 100 million cases of malaria each year in Nigeria, causing the death of 300,000 people and contributing to 11 per cent of maternal mortality. The country accounted for up to a quarter of all malaria cases in 2018, according to the World Health Organisation. Peak malaria transmission takes place during and just after the rainy season in many places.
The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) says lockdowns imposed to control the spread of the coronavirus is costing 42 African countries $65.7 billion monthly. In a report, COVID-19: Lockdown Exit Strategies for Africa, UNECA said the amount represents 2.5% of the continent’s annual gross domestic product (GDP). “This is separate from and in addition to the wider external impact of COVID-19 on Africa of lower commodity prices and investment flows,” the report read. In the report, the UNECA proposed seven exit strategies to bring African economies back on track after lockdowns that helped contain and control the spread of the disease but with devastating economic disruptions. The COVID-19 exit strategies include improving testing; lockdown until preventive or curative medicines are developed; contact tracing and mass testing; immunity permits; gradual segmented reopening; adaptive triggering; and mitigation. The report said the strategies being proposed “are assessed with respect to the extent to which each strategy minimises uncertainty over fatalities”. UNECA urged African countries to take advantage of being behind the curve saying it could be “an opportunity to learn from the experiences of other regions and their experiments in reopening”. Countries were also advised to use the extra time to rapidly put in place testing, treatment systems, preventive measures, and carefully design lockdown exit strategies in collaboration with communities and vulnerable groups.