Why Naira is gaining against US dollar at the black market 

Naira strengthened against the US dollar last week to a 2-month high of N535/$1 at the black market, thereby reducing the gap between the parallel and the official rates; an uptick that was driven by a significant drop in demand for FX at the black market.

Nairametrics reported that the exchange rate, which had hovered around N570 to N572 to a dollar since September, gained over 600 basis points to N535/$1 in the early hours of Thursday, last week as BDC operators hinged it to improved forex liquidity and decrease in demand. It currently trades between N545-N550 at the black market depending on who you buy from.

Meanwhile, the gain at the black market has been attributed to a couple of factors, ranging from crude oil rally, boost in external reserves, increased corporate loans from the international debt market, workers remittances amongst others.

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Foreign loans drive foreign exchange gain

A major boost in the country’s forex reserve via the $4 billion Eurobond raised in September has served as a significant buffer for the apex bank to continue intervening in the official forex market.

Since Nigeria secured the $4 billion Eurobond on September 22nd, a sum of $6.59 billion has been traded on the floor of the I&E window. This is a significant increase compared to $5.62 billion traded in the 36 days preceding the fundraise, implying more funds injected into the market.

As a result of the Eurobond inflow and $3.35 billion direct allocations, approved by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Nigeria’s reserve recorded a boost of $5.05 billion in October, following a $2.76 billion gain recorded in the prior month. The nation’s foreign exchange reserve is now well above the $40 billion threshold.


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Similarly, just as Nigeria moved to the international debt market for funds, Nigerian corporates also raised notable debt fundings from the international market as well. Fidelity Bank, a tier-2 bank, in October, successfully raised $400 million through its 5-year Eurobond issuance.

Another major company in the country with a recent successful Eurobond issuance is Access Bank, after raising $500 million unsecured Eurobond from major global investors from the United States and Europe, amongst others.

These corporate Eurobond issuances indicate more forex liquidity in the country and reduced demand for FX from the parallel market. It is also worth noting that, some Nigerians have stashed dollars during the decline four months ago when the CBN placed a ban on the sales of forex to BDC operators in the country

Crude oil rally boosts forex earnings

In the same vein, the impact of the recent crude oil rally on Nigeria’s exchange rate cannot be overemphasised, after gaining over 60% year-to-date, trading at record highs as the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, kept a tight leash on crude supply in the market, which ensured a positive movement in the prices of crude oil.

Crude oil export accounts for about 90% of Nigeria’s forex earnings, hence any movement in the global price of crude oil will also affect the supply of foreign exchange in the country.

 

Other factors contributing to the recent gains in the parallel market include the rise in P2P transfers with increased crypto adoption in Nigeria. According to a report by Binance, the largest cryptocurrency platform by trading volume in the world, Nigeria is leading the charge as the #1 country leading cryptocurrency adoption.

 

Nigerian youths and investing minds are now moving into crypto investments and blockchain technology to hedge against inflation in the country, with headline inflation still very much in double figures.

The increased appetite for (foreign) remote working jobs has also helped in increasing FX liquidity in the country. The number of Nigerians working for foreign firms and earning dollars as freelancers has increased in recent times, as it is an opportunity for Nigerians to hedge against inflationary pressure with their multiple streams of income.

A cursory look at the balance of payment figures from the Central Bank of Nigeria shows that workers remittances into Nigeria increased to its highest level in five quarters, in Q2 2021. Specifically, workers remittances improved from $4.29 billion recorded in Q2 2020 to $4.91 billion in Q2 2021.

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