Forex window attracts $2.2bn – CBN

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Central Bank of Nigeria Headquaters, Abuja

The Bankers’ Committee of the Central Bank of Nigeria on Thursday said inflows of dollar into the economy through Investor and Exporter (I&E) Forex Window had attracted $2.2 billion in six weeks.

The CBN also said it accounted for almost 30 per cent of the $2.2bn transactions, adding that this was meant to keep the window operating.

Speaking on volume of activities on the Investor and Exporter (I&E) Forex Window, the Acting Director, Corporate Communications, Mr. Isaac Okorafor, said the CBN would sustains its intervention to support the naira.

He said the central bank was comfortable with the external reserves level of $30.3bn. Analysts estimate the bank has spent more than $5bn defending the naira this year.

“Average trading on investors’ window is now $2.2bn in the first six weeks of its introduction with our participation restricted to less than 30 per cent,” Okorafor told Reuters.

“This showed the level of confidence in the system,” he added.

Before the investors’ window was introduced in April, the central bank was the main supplier of hard currency on the interbank forex market, after foreign investors fled naira assets in the wake of an oil price slump in 2014.

The regulator has allowed investors to trade the naira at rates set freely between buyers and sellers, hoping to increase the amount of dollars available in Nigeria – but effectively introducing yet another exchange rate to the five already in operation.

The CBN has an exchange rate for Muslim pilgrims going to Saudi Arabia, a retail rate set by licensed Bureau De Change operators, and a rate for foreign travel and school fees, in addition to the official and black market rates.

The stock market has reacted positively to the introduction of the investor window, rising 34 per cent in six weeks with volumes more than doubling.

The rally also partly follows MSCI’s recent move to boost Nigeria’s weighting on its frontier index, according to analysts.

“When we started intervening in the market, the question was sustainability but we will ensure the process is sustained,” Okorafor said in Lagos.

The central bank last year removed a temporary peg to float the naira, but to protect its precariously low foreign reserves it introduced the convoluted exchange rate system that sees different buyers paying various rates for dollars.

It has said the move is needed to eliminate frivolous demand for foreign currency.

The naira was quoted at 372.70 on the investors’ window on Thursday. It traded at 365 on the black market and was stuck at around 305.25 to the dollar on the official window.

“Today we are gradually achieving convergence between the investor window and invisible window (FX rate for retail users),” Okorafor said

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