macroafricaintel | South Africa – Revision of forecasts

By Rafiq Raji, PhD

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South Africa Q1 2017 Q2 2017 Q3 2017 Q4 2017 Q1 2018 Q2 2018 Q3 2018 Q4 2018 2017 2018 2019
GDP Quarterly % Change (saa)   1.2 0.6 2.8 -1.2 2.0 0.4 2.0      
GDP Annual % Change 0.5 0.9 1.7
CPI Quarterly % Change   5.2 5.0 5.1 3.8 3.9 4.1 3.5      
CPI Annual Average % Change 5.3 4.0 2.9
C/A Quarterly Average % Change -4.1 -4.3 -4.5 -4.6 -4.4 -4.1 -4.4 -4.2      
C/A Annual Average % Change -4.4 -4.3 -4.1
PPI Quarterly % Change yy   4.5 5.2 4.5 4.1 4.1 4.2 4.3      
PPI Annual Average % Change 4.8 4.2 4.3
Repo Rate Long Term Forecast   7.0 6.8 6.5 6.0 6.0 6.0 6.0      
Repo Rate Long Term Forecast 6.5 6.0 5.0

Country Note | Kenya – Drought & rate cap to weigh on growth

By Rafiq Raji, PhD

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We cut our 2017 growth forecast to 5.1 percent (from 6 percent). Drought troubles re-emerged in Q1-2017, with an almost immediate impact on inflation. (Food inflation was 21 percent in April.) Rains have fell short by more than a quarter of the average this year, weighing significantly on agricultural output (24 percent of GDP, 50 percent of export earnings and 60 percent of employment). Food and cash crops have been affected. An imminent maize shortage would only be averted with ramped-up imports. The authorities’ maize reserves have been almost totally depleted, and thus would need re-stocking. The late and meagre rains are also delaying the flowering of coffee bushes. Sugar and tea production are envisaged to decline quite significantly (more so for sugar) this year as well. Considering it is election season (polls on 8 August), nerves are a little frayed; with the opposition and indeed millers blaming the government for not heeding earlier shortage warnings. It is estimated the maize harvest this year could fall short of the 4.3 million tonnes needed by more than 1 million tonnes. Together with slower private sector credit extension on the back of the authorities’ interest rate cap (put in place in September 2016), growth is set to be constrained consequently. A counter-argument is that the interest rate cap is not primarily responsible for lower credit to key sectors of the economy. That is, just because it is slower does not mean growth would be significantly impacted. The Central Bank of Kenya did a study on this, governor Patrick Njoroge says in a recent interview with CNBC Africa. It found for instance that retailers in the trading sector, due to their own unfavourable circumstances, have now come to depend more on supplier credit. And that even as agriculture is a dominant sector of the economy, bank credit constitutes just 4 percent of its financing. Still, there has been an opportunity cost to the government’s interest rate cap, with banks prefering to divert the relevant portion of their risk buckets to risk-free government securities. Private sector credit extension is currently about 4-4.5 percent, a far cry from 21 percent in August 2015. Add to that the earlier highlighted looming drought-induced food crisis. Unsurprisingly and with elections only months away, the Kenyatta government has been forced into action. Authorities announced in mid-May that about KES6 billion would be used to subsidize food imports. A supplementary budget is in the works in this regard. The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) would almost certainly not be able to ease policy this year. Good thing it took the chance when it did in September 2016. Lower interest rates was a factor behind our higher growth forecasts in September.

Kenya Macro Forecasts 2017 2018 2019
Real GDP, % change 5.1 5.5 6.0
Inflation, % change 11.8 8.4 5.8
Current Account Balance (% GDP) -6.0 -5.5 -5.1
Fiscal Balance (% GDP)* -7.1 -5.7 -4.5
USD:KES** 103.5 103.0 101.0
Source: Macroafricaintel Research, *fiscal year begins July 1, **year-end

Violent and chaotic party primaries raise concerns about August elections
Party primaries in April were marred by violence and rigging. Both the ruling Jubilee party and newly formed opposition coalition National Super Alliance (NASA) party had one form of disruption or the other. However, the fracas at that of the Jubilee party was more serious. 62 people were charged to court in early May for either bribing voters or inciting violence during the primaries. Incidentally, as quite a few intending candidates were not able to secure party nominations before the 10 May Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) deadline, the August elections are set to have the highest number of independent candidates on record. Preparations for the polls by the IEBC itself have ran into some holdups. For instance, the IEBC cancelled the contract for the electronic voting system in March, raising opposition fears that a forced manual voting amendment of the electoral law by the ruling Jubilee party may become the main voting mechanism, instead of the backup it is supposed to be. Although the IEBC says it is considering other options, indications suggest the election may be significantly contentious should voting be done manually. Thus, fears about violence during the elections are not misplaced. But would it likely be as intense as the 2007 elections? We do not think so.

Rising debt profile worrying
Key concern is that the authorities are increasingly relying on relatively expensive syndicated loans. As at end-2016, Kenya’s external debt was US$17.7 billion (26 percent of GDP). Since then, the authorities have taken on at least US$2.55 billion in syndicated loans. In March, authorities took US$1.55 billion in syndicated loans: $800 million from Standard Chartered, Standard Bank, Citi, and Rand Merchant Bank; $500 million from Afrexim and TDB; and $250 million from TDB. And in May, the authorities took another US$1 billion syndicated loan split between commercial banks and development financial institutions. These alone add 3.7 percent of GDP to the debt stock. It is doubtful the authorities’ 6.0 percent of GDP fiscal deficit target for 2017/18 FY (starts 1 July), from 9.0 percent of GDP in 2016/17, would be met. We have raised our fiscal deficit forecasts consequently. President Uhuru Kenyatta tried to be reassuring on the rising debt profile in his state of the nation address in mid-March. But the government’s actions have not been in tune with its rhetoric: On 1 May, Mr Kenyatta raised the minimum wage by 18 percent. It is not all too surprising though. (We highlighted in our last note how upcoming elections might spur disproportionate public spending.)

CBK to pause expansionary stance
Drought conditions in Kenya have caused a spike in food prices, with inflation in toe. Annual consumer inflation was 11.5 percent in April. (compare that to 7 percent in January.) Our current forecasts put inflation higher subsequently; and definitely outside of the Central Bank of Kenya’s (CBK) 2.5-7.5 percent target band for the remainder of 2017. In March, the price of a 90kg bag of maize rose by 5 percent, and is set to spike even more as sellers hoard their stock. Army worms were also reported to have ravaged over 140,000 hectares of maize crops in western and southern Kenya in May, potentially adding to food price pressures down the line. With elections due in August, the government can ill-afford a food shortage crisis. So after depleting its maize reserves to less than a day’s worth (4,500 tonnes) in mid-May, following a release of about 36,000 tonnes to ease the supply shortage, the Kenyan government plans to subsidise wholesale food imports to stabilize prices. But for the drought-induced food crisis, the bank would have remained in a good position to cut rates further this year, after a 50 basis point cut to 10 percent in September 2016. Now, that is totally out of the question. And it would not make sense for it to hike rates either.

Kenya Q2 2017 Q3 2017 Q4 2017 Q1 2018
Policy Rate, % 10.0 10.0 10.0 10.0
Source: Macroafricaintel Research

Country Note | South Africa – Toxic politics

By Rafiq Raji, PhD

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We upgrade our 2017 growth forecast to 0.7 percent, from 0.4 percent. (The IMF is more optimistic though, raising its 2017 growth forecast to 1 percent from 0.8 percent in May.) Still, the South African economy remains delicate somewhat. Some of the wear and tear came out in the Q4 2016 GDP growth data, coming out negative: -0.3 percent (seasonally adjusted and annualised). Since then, especially in Q2 2017 thus far, and amid negative political noise, it has shown remarkable grit. The positively surprising resilience can be evidenced in recent mining (7 percent of GDP) and manufacturing (13 percent of GDP) production data (March), which both beat expectations, coming out at 0.3 percent (year-on-year) and 15.5 percent respectively. (A contraction was expected for the former and the latter was significantly higher than expectations of about 4 percent.) Recent retail sales data was also quite good – turned positive in March after a year-on-year contraction a month earlier led to expectations of a continued negative trend – despite an increasingly debt-weary consumer class. There are other considerations for the upward review. Some of the constraints (load-shedding, political noise, rand weakening and volatility, drought-induced food imports and price spikes) which bogged down the economy last year have either diminished or become non-existent. 

South Africa Macro Forecasts 2017 2018 2019
Real GDP, % change 0.7 0.9 2.3
Inflation, % change 6.2 5.5 6.5
Current Account Balance (% GDP) -4.5 -4.4 -4.3
Fiscal Balance (% GDP)* -3.6 -4.1 -4.0
USD:ZAR** 13.7 12.5 12.7
Source: Macroafricaintel Research, *fiscal year starts on 1 April, **year-end

The maize harvest this year could almost double the last, albeit worries remain about a potential El Nino drought in July-September. Load shedding is now largely unheard of, with new power plants coming on stream by and large according to plan. For instance the Medupi unit 5 came online in April, adding 800MW to the grid. Such is the case now that Eskom, the state power utility, feels secure enough to pushback on green independent power producers; a negative for investor-friendliness but evidence of confidence. Political risk has increased, however, as the ruling African National Congress (ANC) prepares to replace Jacob Zuma as party president in December. Campaigns have begun in earnest. The two principal candidates, deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa and erstwhile African Union Commission chairperson and President Zuma’s ex-wife Nkosozana Dlamini-Zuma, have been reaching out to delegates ahead of the elections. With Mr Ramaphosa obviously a better candidate but out of favour with Mr Zuma, tensions abound. The coming months could be very tense indeed. In-fighting in the ANC, a determined but beleaguered Mr Zuma looking to ensure his ex-wife replaces him, and deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa’s ambition to be chosen instead, have caused a lot of ruckus within the party and wider South African polity. This would probably remain the case till December. Regardless, the South African economy would probably still pull ahead in 2017. Should Mr Zuma prevail at the party conference, however, a wait-and-see approach might be adopted by long-term foreign capital providers. Portfolio investors might not be so worried initially, we have found.

Populist politics may trigger further ratings downgrade
S&P Global Ratings and Fitch Ratings both downgraded South Africa’s credit rating to junk status in early April, after former finance minister Pravin Gordhan was removed from his post in late March. Moody’s is largely believed would follow suit, albeit opinions are divided over whether theirs would be a one-notch downgrade to just one level above junk status or two-notches down to junk status. Mr Gordhan’s replacement, Malusi Gigaba, has since proved to be a little controversial, however, after a widely acknowledged good performance at the World Economic Forum in Durban in May. Concerns revolve around a much touted ‘radical economic transformation’ that could include among other things land expropriation without compensation, nationalisation of the South African Reserve Bank (SARB), mines and commercial banks. Already, a developmentalist state-owned bank to be spinned out of the postal service is in the works. There has been some toning down of the socialist rhetoric lately though. More realistic but still populist options are now being considered it seems. For instance, Mr Gigaba plans to use the $40 billion procurement budget at his behest to aid black businesses. And he continues to assure investors that any supposedly populist initiatives would remain within the bounds of the 2017 budget parameters. So his real intentions (and that of his principal) would probably only become obvious in October when he presents the mid-term budget and probably more so in that for the 2018-19 fiscal year in February. In any case, some sense of what these could be are already becoming obvious.

There is clearly a determination by the Zuma government to build new nuclear power plants; estimated at US$30-70 billion. After a high court ruled in April that an earlier arrangement with Russia (the authorities have similar agreements with China, France, South Korea and the United States) was inappropriate, the government announced in mid-May that new and more transparent ones would be signed instead. The return of disgraced former Eskom chief executive Brian Molefe to the state power utility in May, after a reportedly botched attempt to be finance minister, bolster suggestions in some quarters that the authorities’ nuclear power plans would go ahead irrespective of the potential negative impact on the fiscus. Mr Gigaba has thus far suggested that any move on this front would only come about if the government can afford it. It is highly unlikely however that Mr Gigaba would be able to rule against any of Mr Zuma’s proposals, who it has been suggested seems quite inordinately enthused about the nuclear power programme. Fears about increased corruption in government from already deplorable levels have been raised consequently. These considerations inform our expectations of likely fiscal deterioration and the upward revisions to our 2017 and 2018 deficit forecasts.

Rates likely steady for remainder of 2017
Annual consumer inflation would likely remain outside of the SARB’s 3-6 percent target band (except for July perhaps) for the remainder of 2017. True, the headline figure declined in March to 6.1 percent from 6.6 percent in January and would probably be about 6 percent in April if our forecast is vindicated, it is likely to venture outside the band subsequently. Because even if food prices prove to be stable (on the back of a likely bumper maize harvest this year and hitherto ample imports to fill the gap from an earlier drought-induced decline in domestic production), power tariffs are likely to rise: Eskom secured approval in February from the electricity regulator to raise tariffs by 2 percent in the 2017/18 fiscal year. More relevant though is that the regulator also gave the power utility a carte blanche of sorts to make additional hike requests. And if crude oil prices rise as envisaged, fuel prices (and transportation costs in tandem) would probably rise as well. External factors would also weigh. The US Fed would probably raise rates twice more later in the year, after two hikes already in December 2016 and March 2017, further tightening global credit conditions. The ratings downgrade to junk status and highlighted domestic and external factors have motivated calls in some quarters for the SARB to hike rates. Governor Lesetja Kganyago has expressed scepticism about whether such a move would be differential to foreign portfolio and direct investments. More importantly, a rate cut is almost certainly out of the question this year. Thus, we expect the repo rate to remain unchanged at 7 percent for the remainder of 2017. Our inflation forecasts (at this time) support keeping it that way till end-2018.

South Africa Q2 2017 Q3 2017 Q4 2017 Q1 2018
Policy Rate, % 7.0 7.0 7.0 7.0
Source: Macroafricaintel Research

Country Note | Ghana – New sheriff, new approach?

By Rafiq Raji, PhD

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We cut our 2017 growth forecast to 6 percent (from 7 percent). This would still be an improvement on last year’s growth estimate of 4 percent. Our tempered expectations are due to factors beyond the control of the new Akufo-Addo administration. Beside its discovery of careless spending by the immediate past Mahama administration, cocoa (one of its major exports) prices have declined by about 40 percent over the past year. Gold, another major commodity export, has also suffered price declines (about 9 percent to mid-May 2017 from July 2016). Still, there is good reason to believe growth would be better this year. Much of the optimism is driven by an expected increase in crude oil production. The Sankofa and Gye Nyame (SGN) oil fields are expected to add to already producing Jubilee and Tweneboa, Enyenra, Ntomme (TEN) fields by 2018 at the latest. In tandem with rising crude oil prices, increased production would in addition to boosting the government’s coffers also aid power supply. Gas supply from the fields (from SGN especially) would make Ghana no longer reliant on hitherto unreliable foreign supply from neighbouring Nigeria. Ambitious Akufo-Addo promises to cut the budget deficit to 6.5 percent of GDP in 2017 from 8.7 percent in 2016 augur well for the fiscal outlook, albeit it looks somewhat farfetched. But when the quite refreshing commentary emanating from finance minster Ken Ofori-Atta is countenanced, the new administration deserves the benefit of the doubt at least. For instance, at the National Policy Forum (NPF) held in mid-May, Mr Ofori-Atta was insistent on the commitment of the administration to not add new debt to an already worryingly high stock of 72 percent of GDP (2016), which he claimed at the NPF has already declined to 62 percent if the authorities’ 2017 GDP projection is countenanced. Ongoing monetary policy easing should also be supportive of growth, with already slowing inflation likely averaging at 13 percent for 2017, in our view.

Ghana Macro Forecasts 2017 2018 2019
Real GDP, % change 6.0 7.0 7.1
Inflation, % change 12.9 7.2 5.8
Current Account Balance (% GDP) -5.5 -5.0 -4.5
Fiscal Balance (% GDP) 7.0 6.5 4.5
USD:GHS* 4.3 4.1 3.9
Source: Macroafricaintel Research, *year-end

Populist election promises make us cautious about planned fiscal prudence. We see a decrease in the fiscal deficit to 7 percent of GDP in 2017 from 8.7 percent last year. Considering the authorities plan to reduce the fiscal deficit to 6.5 percent of GDP in 2017, our forecast is probably optimistic. Especially, when past target misses by the authorities are considered. In December 2016 (after the 7 December election loss of President John Mahama), former finance minister Seth Terkper revealed the 2016 fiscal deficit target of 5.3 percent would be missed by about 2 percentage points to 7 percent due to weaker than expected tax revenues and low crude oil prices. The new Akufo-Addo administration would later discover a hitherto undisclosed US$1.6 billion hole in the fiscus. New finance minister Ken Ofori-Atta announced the 2016 deficit was actually almost 4 percent of GDP higher at 8.7 percent (relative to the 5.3 percent target) in his 2017 budget speech in March. Thus, the risk to our deficit forecasts is more to the upside. So even as we are encouraged by the authorities’ fiscal consolidation plans, we remain cautiously optimistic, sceptical even. The relatively slight variance in our forecasts and theirs is simply on the need we see for the new administration to be given the benefit of the doubt. But we would not be surprised at all if the fiscal deficit turns out to be above 7 percent of GDP in 2017.

Some of the constaints (power supply, for example) that bogged down the erstwhile Mahama administration might not be as trying under the new Akufo-Addo government, however. But the itch to spend may remain, probably even more so. Mr Akufo-Addo has reiterated his one dam for every village, one factory for every district campaign promise since assuming office. True to type, allocations were made for these in the 2017 budget. Under the Infrastructure for Poverty Eradication Project (IPEP) initiative for instance, each constitutency would get U$1 million. And the ‘one district, one factory’ programme was specially mentioned. This is one of the reasons why we are a little sceptical about the government’s planned fiscal consolidation. There are indications, however, that the authorities may succeed in re-negotiating better terms on the $918 million IMF programme. Besides, the new government would probably change its mind about not extending the programme beyond April 2018. In this regard, the IMF ‘suggested’ in May that the authorities seriously consider this. Considering the government also insists it would wean itself of the eurobond market for the foreseeable future, we are not ruling out the possibility that it might also change its mind on this. Nonetheless, Mr Ofori-Atta revealed in early March that the government would only borrow from multilateral institutions going forward. And more longer-tenored domestic debt issuances are planned. Authorities already showcase cost savings from its debt reprofiling (on the back of US$2.5 billion in new debt). Still, when juxtaposed against the background of 2016 public indebtedness of about 72 percent of GDP (authorities said in May that the debt stock has already decreased to 62 percent of GDP, mostly due to an expected wider GDP base this year from expected higher growth), a term restructuring primarily around local currency but longer-tenored debt would probably still be inadequate. Besides, state-owned enterprises alone have a debt stock of about US$2.4 billion (more than 6 percent of GDP), according to the IMF in April. So, some nuanced approach would probably be more ideal. Thus, irrespective of the nomenclature (debt ‘reprofiling’ or ‘restructuring’), the new administration may still be forced to retain some of the foreign elements of the previous administration’s plan. Of course, should any new foreign debt be concessionary as the administration insists, that would be a significant positive. We would be positively surprised, however, if the authorities do not yet again go to the eurobond market.

Expansionary monetary policy stance to remain on course. Inflation has started slowing and would likely continue to do so, probably ending the year around 12 percent (authorities target 11.2 percent). Annual consumer inflation was 13.0 percent in April from 13.3 percent in January. The decline in the headline figure masks a significant monthly acceleration to 1.3 and 1.6 percent in March and April respectively, after a much slower pace of 0.7 percent in February from 2.7 percent in January. Higher transportation costs on the back of a petrol price hike was attributed for the latest monthly uptick. Even so, the annual inflation headline would likely trend downwards (except for base-related upticks in August and September) for the remainder of the year. Considering this leaves room for further policy easing by the Bank of Ghana – after a 200 basis point policy rate cut to 23.5 percent in March, we expect a cut of 150 basis points to 22 percent in May and another 400 basis point cut to 18 percent before year-end.

Ghana Q2 2017 Q3 2017 Q4 2017 Q1 2018
Policy Rate, % 22.0 20.0 18.0 16.0
Source: Macroafricaintel Research

Country Note | Nigeria – Exiting recession

By Rafiq Raji, PhD

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Economy likely out of recession in Q1
Growth was -1.5 percent in 2016, same as our forecast.[1] More importantly, it vindicates our view that the economy would not linger in recession for too long.[2] Our reckoning is that the economy would show positive growth in the first quarter of 2017. The assumption behind this discountenances any stimulation efforts by the government. Considering the negative turn that led to the recession was policy-induced, the lower base for the same period last year suggests a ‘normal’ outcome should push the growth headline into positive territory in Q1. Our forecast may turn out to be conservative, we reckon: if the extraordinary measures aimed at boosting agricultural and industrial production are considered, it is not farfetched to expect an even more positive surprise. Yes, just like last year, there has been another budgetary holdup. As the 2016 budget would run long enough till this year’s is passed (as far as June if need be), which could be any moment now, the delay has not proved to be similarly devastating. Base effects aside, there are other considerations. Crude oil production suffered for the most part of 2016 due to resurgent militant attacks by resource control agitators in the oil-producing areas. Scarcity of all sorts were also the rage; at first due to foreign exchange scarcity, which then caused fuel shortages as importers could not find enough hard currency, and subsequently, food as well; which apart from paucity of FX for staples like rice and so on was also due to bans imposed by the customs and monetary authorities. And there was a stubbornly resilient insurgency in the northeastern part of the country.

The Buhari administration, which though floundered initially on the economy, has been quite successful in quelling the terrorist menace. Joint operations with Cameroon and Niger have been particularly effective. And the government has since reversed its position on stopping amnesty payments to repentant Niger Delta militants, with the budget for the programme almost tripled in early May. Additional overtures since then suggest the peace may be sustained, boosting oil production. Incidentally, crude oil prices which earlier rebounded, after production cuts were agreed by OPEC members in November 2016, have been volatile lately; below $50. Even with recent output cuts extension commentary by Saudi officials, prices have not been responsive. Our view is that crude oil prices would likely return back to above $50, when the extension of the November cuts is officially announced later this month. Also, the government now has a strategy document, the economic recovery and growth plan (ERGP), released after a 3-month delay. The usefulness as we see it, is that there would now be less bickering over what the government should do. With just two years before elections in 2019, and politicking already in high gear, how much of the plan gets to be implemented remains to be seen.

Nigeria Macro Forecasts 2017 2018 2019
Real GDP, % change 3.0 3.1 4.3
Inflation, % change 14.0 7.0 5.0
Current Account Balance (% GDP) -1.0 -2.0 -1.5
Fiscal Balance (% GDP) -4.5 -4.1 -4.0
USD:NGN* 317 313 300
Source: Macroafricaintel Research, *year-end

Rates may stay pat for remainder of 2017
Renewed efforts at collaboration between the monetary and fiscal authorities are encouraging; insofar as undue pressure is not put on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to cut rates. Finance minister Kemi Adeosun’s desire for monetary policy easing has been bolstered by the slowing of annual consumer inflation in March to 17.3 percent from 18.7 percent in January; albeit the monthly pace actually accelerated by 1.7 percent in March, almost double that in January of 1 percent. Still, we expect inflation to slow further in coming months, probably ending the year at about 11 percent. Consequently, we do not see how the CBN would be able to justify a rate cut. So even as the CBN would likely face continued pressure from the finance ministry, it would be unwise for any easing move to be contemplated until there is a sustained easing in price pressures. Still, there is good reason to be optimistic. Not only has there been a recent appreciation of the naira as the CBN’s FX reserves level rises owing to recent above-$50 oil, a surfeit of dollars in domicilliary accounts is likely to hit the market soon as erstwhile speculators give up on a hitherto expected naira devaluation. In this regard, the CBN has expressed a determination to support the naira, selling about $6 billion thus far this year (April). With exchange rate pressure on consumer good prices diminishing and local production ramping up, the inflation outlook looks promising. Even so, global factors may be constraining. The Fed is decidedly on a tightening course. The Bank of England and European Central Bank may not be far behind as inflation is already above the 2 percent target in the former and almost so in the latter.

ERGP sets stage for borrowings
Authorities successfully issued a $1 billion Eurobond in February, recording almost 8 times oversubscription. Encouraged by the outing, they plan an additional $500 million, likely before end-Q2. And with the ERGP already in implementation mode, the World Bank would likely avail the government credit request of about $1-2 billion. The African Development Bank would also likely release the second tranche of its $1 billion loan. As Nigerian authorities have already provided their funding commitment on the $11 billion Lagos-Calabar coastal railway project, Chinese authorities are expected to do same when negotiations are completed in June. These would all boost the economy most definitely. But then there is the issue of debt sustainability. Although the country’s debt level is below a quarter of its GDP, without restraint, it could easily rise significantly. Besides, the government’s tax revenue is already overburdened by debt servicing, almost 70 percent according to the IMF. Also, the risk that borrowed funds may not be optimally utilized remains a significant risk. Because even as President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption credentials are exceptional, a wasteful and corrupt public sector culture remains.

Buhari’s health is a key political risk
Mr Buhari recently returned to the United Kingdom for medical treatment. Concerns have been raised about whether he would be able to complete the remainder of his 4-year term. In his stead, vice-president Yemi Osinbajo has proved to be a pair of steady hands. Fortunately, Mr Buhari has provided him all the necessary support to successfully act on his behalf. Still, highwire politicking by mostly northern state governors over a potential vice-president vacancy in the event that Mr Buhari is not able to finish his term is already about. Without proper handling, this could be potentially destabilising. As Mr Osinbajo has proved to be not interested in contesting the presidency in 2019, his expected impartiality should be mitigating to some extent.

Nigeria Q2 2017 Q3 2017 Q4 2017 Q1 2018
Policy Rate, % 14.0 14.0 14.0 14.0
Source: Macroafricaintel Research

[1] https://macroafricaintel.com/2017/02/25/macroafricaintel-weekly-27-feb/

[2] https://macroafricaintel.com/2017/01/03/macroafricaintel-will-nigeria-get-out-of-recession-in-q1-2017/