The nation’s external reserves closed last year with a total balance of $25.84 billion – 30 December – showing a decline of $3.22 billion compared with $29.06 billion it stood as at December 31, 2015.
The figure from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) indicates a 12.7 per cent decline year on year (y/y), but increased by 4.2 per cent month-on-month, up from $24.69 billion on November 28 to $25.781, due to a slight recovery in global oil prices.
Despite demand pressure, the nation’s external reserves and the volume of money or other assets held by the apex bank recorded an increase of $642 million in one month, after weeks of consistent and gradual gains.
These are in spite of a US$2.3 billion decline in average inflows of foreign exchange into the CBN every month over the last 26 months as revealed by the apex bank governor, Dr Godwin Emefiele.
CBN had disclosed in its data on foreign exchange utilisation for October 2016, that it granted access to about 7,792 requests for foreign exchange, valued at over $867 million through the inter-bank window to enable them source vital raw materials and spare parts for their respective industries.
The accretion of Nigeria’s foreign exchange (forex) reserves, which started about two months ago, continued in the new year, as the data by the apex bank showed that reserves had grown to $26.094 billion, signifying a slow but steady improvement in the country’s current account balance.
The present value of the reserves, derived mostly from the proceeds of crude oil sale, represents an appreciation by $2.137 billion or nine per cent, compared with $23.957 billion as of November 2016.