Nigeria’s central bank governor, Godwin Emefiele, projects the economy will grow by roughly 2% in 2021.
Africa’s largest economy slipped into recession in the third quarter – the worst in 33 years – blamed on the COVID-19 pandemic and drop in global crude oil prices. However, Emefiele said he expected it to be short-lived.
Emefiele said he also expected double-digit inflation to “moderate” by the first half of 2021, and defended the bank’s foreign exchange policy that has been criticized by economists and policy makers, arguing that it allowed a gradual liberalization of the naira and was “in line with best practices in other countries.”
The naira’s value has plummeted by 28% this year, but analysts said Emefiele’s dismissal of the black-market rate raised serious doubts about Nigeria’s commitment to reforms and dented hopes for a shift towards a market-driven exchange rate.
On Friday, the naira hit a record low of 600 to the U.S. dollar on the futures market for five-year settlement, underling the severity of a lack of liquidity on the spot market.
Emefiele also said there was “no need to worry” about Nigeria’s foreign reserves.