Renowned international credit rating agency, Standard & Poor's, S&P, has affirmed Nigeria's sovereign rating at BB- with a stable outlook.
Nigeria's Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo- Iweala, alongside the Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Sanusi Lamido Sanusi yesterday disclosed the outcome of the rating assessment at the ongoing IMF/World bank annual meeting in Washington D.C, USA.
S & P, while acknowledging the challenges facing the Nigeria, maintained the economy remains robust with macroeconomic indicators remaining strong.
Dr. Okonjo-Iweala saw the new rating as confirming the Fitch rating in 2012, which painted the Nigerian economy as positive.
The ratings agency noted that Nigeria's debt stock remained relatively low while foreign reserves remained strong. "The agency also views the economy positively in the light of the redeemed N1.7 trillion non-performing loans purchased by the Asset Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON), which will be finally written off its books. Standard & Poor's equally views non-oil sector development especially growth in agriculture, retail, telecoms and power as positive" the minister added.
Standard & Poor's based its strong positive outlook on the Nigerian economy on the background of strong gross domestic product, GDP, growth prospects of the country, deriving from the real sectors such as telecom, agriculture and the strong drive to fix the power sector.
Other factors that accounted for the positive rating included the relatively low debt stock of the country, strong foreign reserves position and the strong prospects of AMCON redeeming its bonds.
It, however, advised on the need to maintain a tight fiscal stance and to address the high level of unemployment in the country.
The CBN Governor, Lamido Sanusi noted that for Nigeria to have retained its rating of BB- at a time when countries such as the United States had its rating downgraded, the Nigerian economy was must truly have been managed well.
While saying external factors are almost beyond policy control, he was sure the current stable rating would be upgraded if the current fiscal and monetary policies are maintained and institutions further strengthened.
The governor further stated that in today's global economy, there is a limited pool of investable capital and huge competition among countries to attract such funds. Going by the rating, the CBN governor remarked, Nigeria would be favourably disposed to such investment decisions.