Welcome to the first Weekly Economic Index for March. Here are the top stories you should keep at the top of your mind as we start the week.
Nigeria’s elections were controversial.
After four days of vote tallying, Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared Bola Ahmed Tinubu president-elect of Nigeria. However, many believe it is still too early for Tinubu and the ruling party to celebrate their victory, as the elections were highly controversial.
For the first time, Nigeria’s election was not the usual two-horse race that overshadowed other runners. And because of the tight competition between the favourites, Nigerians depended on the INEC’s use of technology to ensure transparency. However, the electoral umpire–and technology–became the show’s stars for the wrong reasons.
Kenya has a dollar shortage.
A dollar shortage in Kenya is putting businesses under pressure. Manufacturers and importers are among the most affected by this problem. Seeking to save its foreign reserve, Kenya’s central bank (CBK) resorted to a rationing system. It ordered commercial banks to restrict how much they give out, leading to a daily limit on dollar purchases of as little as $5,000.
This policy has led many businesses to hunt for dollars daily and from multiple lenders to meet their monthly hard currency demands. Some have even gone as far as seeking dollars from neighbouring countries like Tanzania. Is there an end in sight? That’s up for debate. All we know is that a black market is emerging for dollars in Kenya.
Nigeria’s Supreme Court wants the old notes back.
On Friday, Nigeria’s cash scarcity saga took a new turn as the apex court ruled that the old naira notes should remain legal tender until December 31st, 2023.
It all started in November 2022, when the Central Bank of Nigeria announced its intention to redesign the naira. It set a deadline of January 31st, 2023, for the old notes to be used as legal tender. However, as the deadline approached, Nigerians could not access the new notes, leading to long bank queues. What followed was lawsuits from governors against the Central Bank, as well as a Supreme court ruling that the apex bank must extend its deadline. But none of them held water in the end.
Now, the Supreme court has dropped the gavel again. Will anyone listen this time? We’ll find out this week.
ICYMI: Market roundup
- The Nigerian stock market had a positive week, with the All-Share Index gaining 1.06% to close at 54,949.21 points. The top gainers were Geregu Power (27.45%), C&I Leasing (20.61%), McNichols (19.70%), Sunu Assurances (18.92%) and Stanbic IBTC (18.84%). On the other hand, Chams Holding (-10.71%), Multiverse Mining (-10.00%), John Holt (-9.66%), Seplat Energy (-9.43%) and Ecobank (-7.69%) were the top decliners.
- The naira edged lower at the Investors and Exporter Window to close the week at ₦461.75/$ from the previous week’s ₦459/$.
Brent crude rose from $82.85/barrel to open the new week at $85.78/barrel. The US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude also climbed from $76.45/barrel to open the new week at $79.92/barrel.
- The crypto markets had a slightly bearish week that pulled the market cap down to $1.3 trillion. Bitcoin lost 4.59% to close the week at $22,420, Ethereum lost 4.45% to close at $1,564, and BNB lost 6.67% to close at $287.79
- Mastercard Foundation and Gebeya Inc, a SaaS-enabled, Pan-African marketplace, have announced Mesirat, a five-year program that will equip 100 entrepreneurs in Ethiopia with multi-sided gig marketplaces of their own.
- KOOLSKOOLS, a Moroccan Edutech startup, has announced a $960k funding deal from Azur Innovation Fund.
- Envisionit Deep AI, a South African health-tech startup, has secured USD 1.65 M investment from New GX Ventures SA after emerging as the Southern Africa regional winner at the African Startup Awards.