The World Bank Group has raised Nigeria’s growth expectations in 2020 to 2.1 per cent, describing it as an “edge up”, a development that confirms the country’s continued stay in sluggish economic path for another calendar year.
It also warned that the macroeconomic framework is characterised by multiple exchange rates, foreign exchange restrictions, high persistent inflation, and a central bank targeting manifold objectives that are not conducive to confidence.
Meanwhile, the global economic growth is also forecast to edge up to 2.5 per cent in 2020, as investment and trade gradually recover from last year’s significant weakness, but downward risks persist.
The World Bank’s “January 2020 Global Economic Prospects”, however noted that growth among advanced economies as a group is anticipated to slip to 1.4 per cent in 2020, in part due to continued softness in manufacturing.
On the other hand, growth in emerging market and developing economies is expected to accelerate this year to 4.1 per cent, though not broad-based, but improved performance of a small group of large economies, some of which are emerging from a period of substantial weakness.
The global institution noted that in Angola, Nigeria, and South Africa- the three largest economies in the region, growth was subdued in 2019, remaining well below historical averages and contracting for a fifth consecutive year on a per capita basis.
Beyond the large economies, growth also deteriorated in several industrial commodity exporters in 2019, as weaker prices and softer demand dampened activity in extractives sectors, such as in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, and Namibia.
The World Bank Group Vice President for Equitable Growth, Finance and Institutions, Ceyla Pazarbasioglu, said: “With growth in emerging and developing economies likely to remain slow, policymakers should seize the opportunity to undertake structural reforms that boost broad-based growth, which is essential to poverty reduction.
“Steps to improve the business climate, the rule of law, debt management, and productivity can help achieve sustained growth.”
The bank’s Prospects Group Director, Ayhan Kose, added: “Low global interest rates provide only a precarious protection against financial crises. The history of past waves of debt accumulation shows that these waves tend to have unhappy endings.
“In a fragile global environment, policy improvements are critical to minimize the risks associated with the current debt wave.”
Regional growth is expected to pick up to 2.9 per cent in 2020, assuming investor confidence improves in some large economies, energy bottlenecks ease, a pickup in oil production contributes to recovery in oil exporters and robust growth continues among agricultural commodity exporters.
The forecast is weaker than previously expected reflecting softer demand from key trading partners, lower commodity prices, and adverse domestic developments in several countries.
A sharper-than-expected deceleration in major trading partners such as China, the Euro Area, or the United States, would substantially lower export revenues and investment.
A faster-than-expected slowdown in China would cause a sharp fall in commodity prices and, given Sub-Saharan Africa’s heavy reliance on extractive sectors for export and fiscal revenues, weigh heavily on regional activity.
A broad-based rise in government debt has led to sharp increases in interest burdens, crowding out noninterest expenditure and raising concerns about debt sustainability.
Insecurity, conflicts, and insurgencies— particularly in the Sahel—would weigh on economic activity and food security in several economies. Extreme weather events are becoming more frequent as the climate changes, posing a significant downside risk to activity due to the disproportionate role played by agriculture in many economies in the region.
Still, about a third of emerging market and developing economies are projected to decelerate this year due to weaker-than-expected exports and investment.
U.S. growth is forecast to slow to 1.8 per cent this year, reflecting the negative impact of earlier tariff increases and elevated uncertainty. Euro Area growth is projected to slip to a downwardly revised 1 per cent in 2020 amid weak industrial activity.
Downside risks to the global outlook predominate, and their materialization could slow growth substantially. These risks include a re-escalation of trade tensions and trade policy uncertainty, a sharper-than expected downturn in major economies, and financial turmoil in emerging market and developing economies.
Even if the recovery in emerging and developing economy growth takes place as expected, per capita growth would remain well below long-term averages and well below levels necessary to achieve poverty alleviation goals.
…And the Winner of Best Mobile Banking App Award is FirstBank
First Bank of Nigeria Limited has been named 2019 “Best Mobile Banking App” and “Fastest Growing Retail Bank” by Global Business Outlook.
The Global Business Outlook Award recognises and rewards excellence in business in companies across the world, both in the public and private sectors. The award rewards innovation, creativity and the drive to create value.
FirstBank earned the Fastest Growing Retail Bank recognition because of its leading role in promoting financial inclusion in the country, a drive which has resulted in its 44,000 Agent Banking network designed to complement the provision of bespoke financial services at its over 750 branches nationwide.
Speaking on the awards, Folake Ani-Mumuney, the Bank’s Group Head, Marketing & Corporate Communications said, “We appreciate the recognition of these awards by the respective awarding bodies. The awards are dedicated to all our customers across the globe as their continued patronage of our services is appreciated.
We remain steadfast and would not rest on our laurels at rendering bespoke financial services tailored to meet the financial needs of our valued customers, irrespective of where they may be.”
FirstBank Boosts Education Sector, Supports Schools with N10bn Loan
Nigeria’s premier and leading financial services provider, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, has announced that within the last year, it has supported educational institutions in the country with loans to the tune of over N10 billion.
The Bank’s support is carried out through its FirstEdu product, an educational solution created to enhance the educational facilities in schools with a view to improving the quality of education across the country.
FirstEdu loan is targeted at private Nursery, Primary and Secondary schools to assist the schools in achieving their desired growth in the medium and long-term. The product provides funding to replace old furniture and equipment, pay staff salaries, purchase brand new or fairly-used buses as well as refurbish dilapidated buildings and classroom blocks. With this product, school owners/proprietors can stay ahead to make learning easy and conducive for students.
The product enables the schools to access facilities with no tangible collateral, apart from domiciliation of school fees account with the Bank.
On the other hand, FirstEdu portal is a modular and robust web-based enterprise portal that enables tertiary educational institutions manage academic, administrative, professional, logistics and payment challenges.
The product features and benefits include; e-Learning, virtual library and facilitation of exchange programmes with foreign educational institutions; academic & student events/time-table/calendar management; school fees payment via the internet; online information and result checking; interactive community forum between students and teachers. It also affords applicants the opportunity of enrolling from the comfort of their homes or any location around the world; no licensing, installation and maintenance cost and plugs avenues for revenue leakages amongst others.
According to Chuma Ezirim, Group Executive, e-Business & Retail Products, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, “With FirstEdu, private schools across the various tiers of education in Nigeria; elementary, secondary and tertiary, have the right tool to boost their business to the level they desire. We are pleased to have already disbursed over N10 billion loans to schools in one year and we would continue to support growth in this key sector of our economy.”
“At FirstBank, we identify with the impact of the educational sector on the socio-economic activities of the country and importantly the lives of everyone. We remain committed to supporting schools as education is the core and root factor at enabling growth of our economy” he concluded.
In need of the right educational solutions to give your school a boost, visit the FirstBank branch nearest to you or contact us on our social media channels; @firstbanknigeria on Instagram; @firstbankngr on twitter and FirstBankofNigeriaLimited on Facebook.
ECO Crisis: Nigeria, Other Countries Demand ECOWAS Meeting
Nigeria and six other members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on Thursday demanded a crucial extraordinary meeting to discuss the controversial renaming of the CFA Franc as ECO by eight of their counterparts.
The demand was contained in a communique issued at the end of a meeting by the countries, namely Nigeria, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
On December 21, 2019, the eight French-speaking West African countries announced their decision to dump the French CFA Franc for the ECO single currency scheduled to take off this year.
ECO is the name adopted for the common currency of the ECOWAS by the Authority of the Community’s Heads of State and Government at their 55th Ordinary Session in Abuja.
The announcement was made by the Ivorien President, Alassane Ouattara, on behalf of the eight countries, namely Benin Republic, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire and Togo Republic.
The adoption of the common currency, expected to be issued in June 2020, is part of efforts by ECOWAS to realise its over 30 years’ aspiration to establish a single currency among its members and ensure regional economic integration in the region.
Ghana had applauded the decision of its Francophone counterparts to break from the shackles of the French colonialism to team up with their ECOWAS colleagues.
Many analysts described the French President, Emmanuel Macron’s role in the eight former colonial territories as an attempt to hijack the ECO single currency project.
But, at the end of the extra-ordinary meeting, the Ministers of Finance and the Governors of the Central Banks of the West African Monetary Zone ((WAMZ) on the ECOWAS single currency programme condemned the eight countries for taking a unilateral decision over the issue.
The meeting held at the CBN headquarters in Abuja under the chairmanship of the Minister of Finance and Economy of the Republic of Guinea, Mamadi Camara. The six countries frowned at the conduct of their counterparts.
The representatives of the affected countries described the “unilateral renaming of the CFA Franc as ECO by 2020 as inconsistent with the decision of the Authority of the Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS for the adoption of the ECO as the name of an independent ECOWAS single currency.”
“WAMZ Convergence Council would be recommending an extraordinary summit of the Authority of the Heads of State and Government of the WAMZ member states will be convened soon to discuss this matter and other related issues,” the communique read.
The English version of the communique was read by the Nigerian Minister of Finance, Budget and Economic Planning, Zainab Ahmed, while the Minister of Economy and Finance of the Republic of Guinea, Mamadi Camara, read the French version.
Other representatives present at the meeting include the Minister of finance and Economic Affairs of the Republic of Gambia, Mambury Njie; Minister of Finance of Ghana, Ofori Atta; Minister of Finance and Development Planning of Republic of Liberai, Samuel Tweah and Minister of Finance of Sierra Leone, Jacob Saffa.
Also, present were Senior Adviser, Central Bank of Gambia, Buah Saidy; Governor of the Bank of Ghana, Ernest Addison; Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele.