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Nigeria rates held to support naira

Tuesday, January 20, 2015 - 02:01

Nigeria is facing an economic crisis caused by a fall in world oil prices. As Sonia Legg reports the problem come as Africa's biggest economy gears up for a closely fought election in February.

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It's in the midst of an economic crisis - but Nigeria's central bank held steady - retaining its interest rate at 13%. It raised the rate at its last meeting for the first time in two years and there's been little improvement since. The currency hit a record a low of 1.89 to the dollar ahead of the meeting. And the collapse in world oil prices continues to take its toll, says Lagos economist Bismarck Rewane. (SOUNDBITE) (English) BISMARCK REWANE, ECONOMIST, SAYING: "The revenues are down by over 50%, exports are down, exports revenues are down, government revenues are down, but imports are sticking upwards and the expectations of people are pretty high, so to make that adjustment that is required to bring peoples' expectation in line with the reality is a major problem." Last year Nigeria overtook South Africa to become the continent's biggest economy. It stills expects growth many in Europe can only dream of but the forecast has come down to 5.5% from 6.4% Justin Urquhart Stewart is from Seven Investment Management. (SOUNDBITE (English) JUSTIN URQUHART STEWART, SEVEN INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT, SAYING; "There is an awful lot of entrepreneurialism going on in other developments - that needs to have far more focus on it to enable that part of the economy to grow and not have the drug of oil merely seeping into the rest of the nation the entire time." Politics too is important. There's an election in four weeks and President Goodluck Jonathan needs to prove he has a grip on the security situation as well as the economy. Boko Haram controls parts of the north and says it wants to build an Islamic state. That means more killings, kidnappings and hunger for many of those living there. SOUNDBITE (English) JUSTIN URQUHART STEWART, SEVEN INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT, SAYING; "Fundamentally we need to have a clear political decision from the election to make sure there is strong government coming through to deal with domestic issues and domestic geo-political issues, particularly in the north of the country." For those further south one other policy is also key - subsidised fuel. After several attempts to scrap it - the government instead slashed the price of gasoline by 10%. Clearly a bid to boost its popularity even though it can't really afford it.

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Nigeria rates held to support naira

Tuesday, January 20, 2015 - 02:01