Welcome to a new week. Here are the top three stories you should keep in mind from Africa’s business space.

The CBN is fighting for the naira.

February has been a highly volatile month for the naira: it reached an all-time low of N1910 against the dollar. And now, the Central Bank of Nigeria is playing every trick in the book to tame this rapid devaluation. Since the country can’t meet up on the supply side, it wants to control demand.

Two main moves came in the last week to this effect. The first was a government-backed blockage on crypto trading platforms like Binance and CoinBase. The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) directed telcos to restrict access to these platforms on Wednesday, February 21st. Shortly afterwards, it eased this restriction. But there was a caveat: Binance would not allow people to trade the dollar above N1700 on their platform.

The second move was that the apex bank set a $500 limit on the purchase and sales of the dollar by cash. So, if you want to buy or sell foreign currency exceeding $500 through a Bureau De Change (BDC) operator in Nigeria, you’ll need to use digital payment methods like bank transfers or online platforms. The new rule bars BDCs across the country from dealing with cash transactions above $500 for the purchase or sales of foreign currency.

ECOWAS walked back on its Niger sanctions.

On Saturday, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission announced the lifting of most sanctions imposed on Niger over last year’s coup. This decision happened during the bloc’s summit, which aimed to address existential threats facing the region as well as implore three military-led nations that have quit the bloc – Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso – to rescind their decision. ECOWAS had previously suspended all three of them.

The two most crucial sanctions lifted were the no-fly zone and border closure. ECOWAS also said it had lifted certain sanctions on Malian individuals and some on junta-led Guinea, which has not said it wants to leave the bloc but has also not committed to a timeline to return to democratic rule.

Zambia signed its debt restructuring deal.

According to Zambia’s President, Hakainde Hichilema, China and India, the last two nations needed to sign a deal to restructure Zambia’s debt, have finally done so. “We’re getting there,” he said on Zambian state-owned television. “Now we are turning our attention to the private creditors that we hope to be able to put to bed soon.”

The deal to restructure $6.3bn of debt saw a deadlock in discussions last October when the Official Creditors Committee, co-chaired by France and China, rejected a deal in principle. China rejected last year’s deal noting that the agreement did not meet its understanding of “comparability of treatment”.

Zambia needs deals with its creditors to continue a $1.3bn IMF bailout. Its 8.5% bonds due April 2024 were up 0.4 points to 66.3 cents on the dollar.

ICYMI: Market roundup

  • The Nigerian stock market had a bearish week, with the All-Share Index closing with a -3.44% change to 105,722.78 points.
  • The top gainers were Juli Plc. (+59.18%), Sunu Assurances Nigeria Plc. (+17.42%), FBN Holdings Plc (+10.71%), Geregu Power Plc (+9.32%), and Prestige Assurance Plc (+8.77%). The top decliners were Morison Industries Plc. (-32.66%), Consolidated Hallmark Holdings Plc (-19.35%), Sterling Financial Holdings Company Plc (-18.69%), Guinea Insurance Plc. (-16.67%), and Associated Bus Company Plc (-16.67%).
  • The naira ended the week at N1500 against the dollar but has reopened at N1665 at the official market.
  • Brent crude ended the week at $81.25/barrel, while WTI closed at $76.13.
  • The cryptocurrency market cap currently stands at $1.98 trillion. Bitcoin lost 2.28% to start the week at $51180, Ethereum gained 4.91% to close at $3061 and BNB gained 10.9% to close at %390.
  • Hohm Energy, a South African solar energy startup, has raised $8 million in its seed round.
  • Mamamoni, a Nigerian fintech social enterprise, has received €250,000 ($270,000) in funding from the Challenge For Youth Employment (CFYE).

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