Post-US election, AfCFTA should focus policymakers’ minds: AZA FX Weekly Round-Up
Post-US election, AfCFTA should focus policymakers' minds
For the past four years, the United States' strategy on Africa has centered on competing against China, the continent's biggest trading partner. Talks from aid to trade revolved around encouraging the continent to turn away from Beijing and prevent China from taking greater stakes in Africa's technology, energy, and infrastructure. Bringing attention back to boosting African trade and investment for the continent's own sake will take more than a change of US president. It demands a bigger voice from Africa. The African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), set for launch on 1st January 2021 after regrettable delay, and comprising all 55 members of the African Union, provides a valuable roadmap. Beyond courting the White House, Africa's policymakers should focus on taking advantage of this unprecedented opportunity to boost their post-pandemic economies from within.
Naira turnover soars while CBN pump keeps currency stable
The Naira inched lower to 463/$ from 462 this week as market players await weekly FX sales to Bureau De Changes by the CBN. So far, the central bank has met market expectations by continuing to boost liquidity each week. As a result, sentiment remains stable even as forex turnover rose sharply by 122% at the NAFEX window. As the central bank continues to struggle with a backlog of FX demand from investors wishing to repatriate their funds, we expect the apex bank to further improve market liquidity and the currency to continue trading within a range of 460-465/dollar.
Rand at 8-month high may have further to run
The Rand gained to its strongest levels since March at a rate of R16 against the dollar, propelled by improved global sentiment around the US presidential election outlook. Amid a resurgence in coronavirus cases globally, concerns were assuaged at home by a preliminary agreement between South African pharmaceutical company Aspen and J&J to commercially manufacture its COVID-19 vaccine. Bullish international momentum could be a major driver for the currency in the coming days.
Ugandan Shilling may weaken further with easing of lockdowns
The Ugandan Shilling slid to levels of 3735/3745 per dollar as importers increased FX demand to meet their obligations. Weak economic growth projections led the Bank of Uganda to retain its key policy rate at 7% in the last MPC meeting in October. The Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) said CPI data showed annual inflation for the year to Oct. 30 at 4.5%, the same as a month earlier. With the government expected to ease coronavirus lockdowns, we foresee more pressure on the Shilling as imports rise.
Imports weaken Kenyan Shilling while remittances slip
The Kenyan Shilling has been losing ground, trading at 110.0 - 110.45 levels, due to increased dollar demand from importers of oil and merchandise. A month-on-month decline in diaspora remittances, while still rising year-on-year, also contributed to lower forex inflows. The currency is supported by official forex reserves currently at USD 8,121 million, or 4.93 months of import cover, which is above the statutory requirement. Further dollar inflows will come from Kenya's first diaspora bond for green infrastructure projects, planned for this financial year. There is also support from exporters of tea, coffee, and horticulture getting better prices. Still, in the immediate term, we foresee slight weakening pressure on the Shilling as a result of increased importer demand.
Tanzania election leaves Shilling stable as economy resumes
The Shilling depreciated very slightly to 2314/2324 (2320) from 2313/2327 (2320) a week ago as a result of a reduced economic activity around Tanzania's election limiting import earnings. We foresee the Shilling remaining stable in the coming week, amid a pickup in business and trade, with demand for dollars from oil marketing companies, manufacturers, and telecoms balanced by agriculture commodities inflows, particularly cashew nuts.