Nigeria consumer inflation falls again in November - CNBC Africa

Nigeria consumer inflation falls again in November

Western Africa

by Reuters 0

Nigeria's consumer price inflation fell for a third month in November as food price rises slowed again.

This shrugged off weakness in the naira currency that threatens to push up living costs ahead of next year's election.

The statistics bureau said on Sunday that inflation last month was 7.9 per cent, down from 8.1 per cent in October. Food price inflation declined to 9.1 per cent from 9.3 per cent.

"After peaking in August this year at 10.0 per cent (year-on-year), the food index has continued to moderate," the statistics bureau said in a statement. "The Food index rose by 9.1 per cent (year-on-year) in November, down by 0.2 percentage points lower from 9.3 per cent recorded in October."

Nigeria's inflation rate has remained at record low levels in the single digits for the past two years but could rise in December as a result of the central bank's 8 per cent devaluation of the naira on 25 November.

The central bank also increased interest rates by 2 percentage points to 14 per cent to help protect its foreign reserves, after spending several billion dollars to defend the local currency from the impact of plunging oil prices.

Oil, OPEC member Nigeria's main export and source of revenues, has lost more than 45 per cent of its value since June.

The impact of the devaluation is already being felt on the streets, with traders saying they have had to raise prices, often at the expense of losing customers.

The country grows most of its own food, but imports a number of staples like wheat and rice, making currency weakness an extremely sensitive issue for poorer Nigerians.

A surge in living costs would be a headache for President Goodluck Jonathan less than three months before what is likely to be a closely fought presidential election.

On Sunday, the statistics bureau also said the value of merchandise trade in the third quarter was 6,299.7 billion naira (35 billion US dollars), down 5.4 per cent from the previous three months.

The value of Nigeria's imports fell by 7.9 percent to 1,820.3 billion naira (10.1 billion US dollars) in July-September compared with the second quarter, primarily because mineral fuel imports declined.

China, the United States, Belgium, India and the Netherlands were the top five countries of import origin, accounting for a combined 23.6 per cent of the total.

The value of Nigeria's exports declined by 4.3 per cent to 4,479.5 billion (24.9 billion US dollars) naira in Q3 versus the previous quarter. India was the main export destination accounting for 15.3 per cent of the total, followed by Spain, the Netherlands, South Africa and Brazil.

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