Home » News: Currency Woes Grip Multiple African Nations As Nigeria, Kenya, Egypt Grapples With Forex Crisis

News: Currency Woes Grip Multiple African Nations As Nigeria, Kenya, Egypt Grapples With Forex Crisis

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Forex Crisis

As Nigeria grapples with an unprecedented foreign exchange (FX) crisis, it is evident that the challenges posed by currency devaluation extend beyond its borders.

Recent investigations have revealed that three other African nations are also navigating through the turbulent waters of a currency crisis, shedding light on a continent-wide struggle that goes beyond the economic powerhouse of Nigeria.

The implications of these currency woes ripple through diverse sectors, impacting not only national economies but also regional stability.

According to businessday.ng,several economic and political factors, such as inflation, government instability, reduced foreign direct investment (FDI), and fluctuating capital flows, have been associated with the weakness of some other African currencies.

The naira has been on a steady decline since the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) floated it in June 2023, collapsing all the segments in the FX market into the Investor’s and Exporters’ Window. It depreciated to as low as 1,534.39 per dollar last Monday at the Nigerian Autonomous Foreign Exchange Market.

READ: News: African Development Bank Warns of Impending Unrest In Nigeria, Ethiopia, Angola, and Kenya Due To Economic Hardship

The FX market experienced a significant 56.58 percent decline in dollar supply on Wednesday, just two days after witnessing a surge in liquidity driven by the CBN’s interventions.

The impact of this depreciation is felt keenly by businesses and households across Nigeria.

READ: News: African Development Bank (AfDB) pledges $1.5 billion to boost Agro-Product exports in Africa

Businesses reliant on imported goods face increased costs as the value of the naira decreases, potentially leading to higher prices for consumers.
Companies with foreign debt find their repayment obligations escalating, putting further strain on their finances.

Kenya
Eastern Africa’s second-largest economy is similarly battling with depreciating currency as a result of both external shocks since 2020 and internal factors.
Last year, Bloomberg reported that the Kenya shilling experienced its largest drop in the past 30 years in 2023. It also reached an all-time high of 163 per dollar in January of 2024.

The currency weakness was a result of the decline in foreign portfolio investors due to the strengthening of the US currency that pushed investors towards high yields on US Treasury bonds, making foreign exchange from export in Kenya decline.

Kenya relies on FX inflows from diaspora remittances, exports, tourism, foreign direct investment, and foreign loan disbursements to stabilise the currency.

This depreciation is making imports more expensive and increasing Kenya’s debt, which stood at more than 10,100 billion shillings (64.4 billion euros) at the end of June, according to Treasury figures, or around two-thirds of gross domestic product.
Although at the time of writing this story on Thursday, the shilling was up almost eight percent, according to LSEG data, which was fuelled by foreign inflows into Kenyan domestic debt of $2 billion Eurobond maturing in June.

Egypt
In December 2022, the International Monetary Fund approved a $3 billion loan for Egypt in exchange for several economic reforms including a move to a flexible exchange rate to stablise its currency.

The dollar exchange rate was more than 70 pounds in the black market over the past few days, compared to 31 pounds in the official market, with a 130 percent gap between the two rates. On Sunday, the exchange rate in the black market fell to less than 60 pounds, bridging the gap to 100 percent, but still maintaining confusion and chaos in Egypt’s currency market.

Factors that contributed to the currency devaluation included the scarcity of foreign currency; the government’s inability to provide dollar bills; traders’ tendency to speculate on prices of dollars, gold, and properties; some food suppliers’ tendencies to stockpile basic commodities to make more profits, and some people stockpiling on basic commodities for fear of a rise in prices or decrease in supply.

Egypt’s economy was hit hard after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 unsettled global investors and led them to pull billions out of the North African country.

The war sent wheat prices spiralling – heavily affecting Egypt, one of the world’s largest grain importers, and piling pressure on its foreign currency reserves.
Currently, there are limits to how much money can be withdrawn from banks and ATMs, whether in dollar bills or Egyptian pound.

As a result of the dollar volatility, prices of gold, iron, electrical appliances, and other commodities have experienced record rises.
Although Egypt’s inflation slowed to 29.8 percent in January 2024 from 33.7 percent in December, it remains well above the upper limit of the central bank’s target range of 5-9 percent.

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