- The nation would record about 35 per cent cut in its import bill in the first quarter of 2022, the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, has said.
He spoke, yesterday, in Abuja, while receiving a delegation, led by the governor of the Central Bank of Gambia, Mr. Buah Saidy.
He also expressed the readiness of Nigeria to print the Gambian currency (Dalasi) for the West African country.
According to him, with the coming on stream of the Dangote Refinery and Petrochemical plant and others, with the capacity to produce about 6.5 million tons of Urea, Nigeria would have more petroleum and petrochemical products needed locally, with the excess available for export.
He said: “About five years ago, our president insisted that we must diversify the economy and that we reduce to the barest minimum, the importation of items that we can produce locally, especially food items, by producing what we eat and ensure that we eat what we produce.
“At that time, one of our big multinationals, I would call it a conglomerate, went into the business of setting up a 650 , 000 barrels per day petroleum refinery and also a petrochemical plant that will produce more than the quantity of propylene and other products that we need.
“That company, late last week, started the production of Urea, which is the most important material you need for the production of fertilizer.
“With 2 million tons per annum, there is another company producing about 3 million tons per annum and yet another one producing about 500, 000 that is an annual capacity of about almost 6. 5 million tons of urea.
“We need only about 1.5 million to 2 million tons to satisfy our own domestic needs. That means we have the potential to export the excess and earn foreign currency from these items.
“Of course for petroleum products, by the time the refinery goes into production by the first quarter of next year and the petrochemical plants we would have reduced our importation by about at least close to 35 per cent.
“Luckily Nigeria is endowed. Nigeria has crude oil. Nigeria has gas and that is why, leaning on the words of our president, we have chosen to encourage companies to look inwards by helping to provide funds for them to bring in equipment that they need. They will source their raw materials almost 100 per cent locally. That is one of the things we are doing to strengthen our economy.”
Printing Gambian currency
Emefiele also told the Gambian delegation that Nigeria was ready to print the Dalasi for the country, adding that it would be more cost effective than printing in Europe.
“My colleagues will take you to our Security Printing and Minting Company. Our colleagues from Liberia who were there two months ago were fascinated by the facilities we have at the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting.
‘’Our colleagues will see how they can help you to restructure your Central Bank and also see how we can be of assistance in printing your currency.
“I can assure you that we can be extremely competitive, if only from the stand points of logistics and freight. The Gambia is only a few hours from here,’’ Emefiele said.
The governor of the Central Bank of The Gambia was in Abuja to seek CBN’s assistance in restructuring his bank and to explore the possibility of printing his country’s currency in Nigeria.
He rejected the idea of seeking help from the International Monetary Fund for the restructuring of the Gambian apex bank and chose to go to the CBN because of the confidence that the Nigerian experience would best serve the interest of Gambians.
He revealed that his country was growing at 6 per cent per annum before the devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic which brought the economy to its knees at 0.2 per cent.
The Gambian apex bank boss, however, was optimistic that the economy which depends heavily on tourism would recover and grow at about 4.1 percent, this year.
The IMF, he added, even had a more optimistic forecast of 4. 9 percent for the country’s economy this year.