(Adds cenbank comment, FX auction)
By Oludare Mayowa and Chijioke Ohuocha
LAGOS, March 28 Nigeria's central bank has set a
new naira rate for retail exchange bureaus to sell dollars to
consumers, the head of the bureau association told Reuters on
The new rate of 362 per dollar is an 11 percent rise from
the last setting in January and will bring the selling price at
bureaus close to another consumer rate set on
Nigeria has several exchange rates -- the official one, the
black market, a rate for Muslim pilgrims going to Saudi Arabia
and a rate for foreign travel, school and medical fees.
The multiplicity of rates is hurting naira assets as foreign
investors find it hard to price them, analysts say.
"The objective of the new forex sale policy was to ensure a
convergence of the rates on the interbank (market) and BDC
(bureaus de change)," central bank spokesman Isaac Okorafor
Aminu Gwadabe, head of Nigeria exchange bureaus, said the
central bank would sell $8,000 each to his members this week at
a rate of 360 per dollar, which they would resell to consumers
at a profit margin of 2 naira.
Nigeria is battling a currency crisis brought on by low
prices for oil, its main export, that has hammered foreign
reserves and created chronic dollar shortages, frustrating
businesses and individuals. Africa's biggest economy is in
recession for the first time in quarter of a century.
On Monday, the central bank set a rate of 360 naira per
dollar for consumers with certain foreign expenses sourcing hard
currency through commercial lenders, and stepped up intervention
on the official market to narrow the gap with the black
The bank intervened with $1.5 million on the spot market on
Tuesday but sold the dollar at 306.15 naira, 20 percent weaker
than the black market rate.
Okorafor said the regulator had also auctioned $100 million
on the forward market on Tuesday.
The central bank, which opposes a free naira float, has been
selling the U.S. currency on the official market to try to
narrow the spread with the black market rate, which is currently
375, down from 520 per dollar a month ago.
Gwadabe told Reuters on Monday that his members had incurred
currency losses of 130 million naira based on trading at the old
rate after the central bank interventions caused the naira to
rally on the black market.
He said his members could boycott central bank sales unless
the regulator reviews rates for exchange bureaus in addition to
addressing the multiplicity of rates on the market.
(Additional reporting by Camillus Eboh in Abuja; Editing by