13 June 2012

Nigeria: Sanusi Urges Focus On Building Reserves, Exchange Rate Stability

Lagos — The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Malam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi has stressed the need for Nigeria to focus on rebuilding its reserves and stabilising the exchange rate to protect it against further fallout from global economic uncertainty.

Sanusi acknowledged that a drive to replenish the country's excess crude account, which remains depleted following the 2009 drop in oil prices, would require political will.

He also told the global publishing, research and consultancy firm, Oxford Business Group (OBG), that the country's economic development would benefit from greater private sector involvement.

He said: "The global economic outlook is still uncertain, and it is vital that we resume our savings so that we are prepared for the worst in case the situation deteriorates. Doing so will depend on an agreement among all political stakeholders involved. Structural adjustment is also of key concern. We need to get to a point where we have an infrastructure whereby the balance sheet of the government is not the major driver of investment."

Sanusi was confident that steps taken to recapitalize Nigeria's banks and put their balance sheets in order meant they were now well placed to play their part in boosting lending.

"The question now lies with the counterparties. Vital elements, like infrastructure, energy and agricultural transformation are what will bring about bankable companies and projects. The ball now lies in the government's court, he said."

He added that the 'Cashlite' programme, which forms a key component in Nigeria's efforts to reduce the volume of cash in circulation, was scheduled to be rolled out across the country at the beginning of 2013 following its introduction this year in Lagos.

"The roll-out over 2012 has been focused on Lagos given its proximity to the landing points of fibre-optic cables, it is ideally positioned for technological adoption. Instant electronic transfers have been enabled, interconnectivity between ATMs is ensured and mobile banking licenses have been issued," he said.

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