Nigerian economy defies Ebola threat

by Developed Africa 15. October 2014 09:00

The Nigerian Ministry of Health has confirmed 19 cases of the virus, including seven fatalities within the Nigerian borders, however Nigeria’s Finance Minister has stated that the Nigerian economy has not been severely affected by the crisis.

Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has said in an interview with Bloomberg TV Africa:

We have a team monitoring the economic impact and we don’t feel we are yet at the point where we can say it’s having a huge impact on the economy”.

This comes as welcome news as the country prepares to open the Development Bank of Nigeria in the next six to nine months. The bank will be financed by the Nigerian government, along with assistance from the World Bank, the African Development Bank and the German development bank, KfW Group. The lender will be capitalized with $2 billion to begin with, but the minister has said that it is hoped that this will rise to up to $10 billion, filling a gap in business lending within the country.

Despite warnings from the U.S. Centers for Disease and Control that the crisis could “change the economy of the world”, and Okonjo-Iweala’s concerns of earlier this year of the economy finding itself in a “vulnerable” state, it appears that activity within the country is remaining largely unchanged. The Nigerian Excess Crude Account, where a portion of oil revenue is stored as a safety net to protect the economy in times of volatility, stands at $4.11 billion, the same level as recorded in July.

On September 9th, an investor day planned by the parent of Nigeria’s biggest company, Dangote Cement, was postponed in Lagos due to Ebola fears. Okonjo-Iweala has commented:

There’s been some fall-off in hotel occupancy, in Lagos in particular, some meetings have been postponed, but you still have other businesspeople who are arriving.”

 

The NMH has claimed that the emergence of new Ebola cases within the country’s borders has now ceased, with a small number of contacts still under surveillance. However, with doctors stating that the risk to Nigerians will only end once the disease has been eradicated in neighbouring countries, we are yet to see whether the economy will remain resilient in the longer term.

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