Nigeria’s naira has experienced a reversal in its recent gains, emerging as the world’s worst-performing currency over the last month, according to a new Bloomberg report.

The Friday report emphasised that this development places increased pressure on the Central Bank of Nigeria to continue raising interest rates.

The naira has depreciated to 1,466.31 against the dollar, marking its weakest level since March 20.

This decline is attributed to the local scarcity of the US currency, with only $84 million available on Thursday, half of the previous day’s supply.

CBN governor, Yemi Cardoso, had previously hailed the naira as the best-performing currency globally as of April 2024.

The naira faced challenges in March, plummeting to as low as N1,600/$1 on the official market and N1800/$1 on the parallel market.

Cardoso attributed this achievement to a series of foreign exchange market reforms and positive sentiment from leading international investment institutions.

Speaking with Bloomberg, the Chief Economist for Africa and the Middle East at Standard Chartered, Razia Khan, estimates that $1.3 billion in naira futures will mature at the end of this month, potentially dampening market sentiment.

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“The belief is that this will create more demand for dollars.

“When the currency appreciated very fast, there had been a bout of profit-taking by offshore investors, and this meant that the dollar-naira exchange rate backed up again.

“This is completely in line with the functioning market,” she said

The report further highlights that the decline in the naira’s performance is expected to intensify pressure on the CBN to implement another rate hike after its upcoming policy meeting on May 21.

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In February and March, the Central Bank increased rates by a total of 600 basis points. This move aided the naira in rebounding from its low of 1,627 naira on March 8 to 1,072 in mid-April, as investors sought out higher-yielding local assets.

Naira weakness was also seen on the unofficial market, where it slipped 0.9% to 1,468 naira a dollar on Friday owing to increased demand from individuals and small businesses, said Abubakar Muhammed, chief executive of Forward Marketing Bureau de Change Ltd., which tracks the data in the commercial capital, Lagos.

The weakness of the naira was also evident in the unofficial market, where it depreciated by 0.9% to 1,468 naira against the dollar on Friday.

According to the report, the chief executive of Forward Marketing Bureau de Change Ltd., Abubakar Muhammed, which monitors data in Lagos, attributed this decline to heightened demand from individuals and small businesses.

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Two other African countries rank among the four worst-performing currencies in the last month.

The Zambian kwacha hit a record low of 27.3969 per dollar on Friday. Meanwhile, Ghana’s cedi weakened to 13.99 against the dollar on the same day, marking its lowest level since 2022. Both countries are currently undergoing debt restructuring processes.

“For Ghana and Zambia, the delays with reaching a debt restructuring agreement with private creditors is likely weighing on capital flows,” chief investment officer for UK-based Emerging Markets Investment Management Ltd., Ayodele Salami, told Bloomberg.

“Both countries are unlikely to attract fresh capital inflows until the ongoing debt restructuring negotiations are concluded,” Salami said.

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Salami added that the naira, along with other African currencies, is facing pressure due to increased domestic demand for dollars, particularly to cover the costs of importing raw materials and commodities, including oil.