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How Did We Get Here? Citizens lament as Nigeria´s currency fall to a record low, triggering inflation surge

Nigerians are facing one of the West African nation´s worst economic crises in years triggered by surging inflation, the result of monetary policies that have pushed the currency to an all-time low against the dollar. The situation has provoked anger and protests across the country.

The latest government statistics released Thursday showed the inflation rate in January rose to 29.9%, its highest since 1996, mainly driven by food and non-alcoholic beverages. Nigeria’s currency, the naira, further plummeted to 1,524 to $1 on Friday, reflecting a 230% loss of value in the last year.

“My family is now living one day at a time (and) trusting God,” said trader Idris Ahmed, whose sales at a clothing store in Nigeria´s capital of Abuja have declined from an average of $46 daily to $16.

The plummeting currency worsens an already bad situation, further eroding incomes and savings. It squeezes millions of Nigerians already struggling with hardship due to government reforms including the removal of gas subsidies that resulted in gas prices tripling.

With a population of more than 210 million people, Nigeria is not just Africa´s most populous country but also the continent´s largest economy. Its gross domestic product is driven mainly by services such as information technology and banking, followed by manufacturing and processing businesses and then agriculture.

Nigerians already struggling with hardship with rising cost of food

The challenge is that the economy is far from sufficient for Nigeria´s booming population, relying heavily on imports to meet the daily needs of its citizens from cars to cutlery. So it is easily affected by external shocks such as the parallel foreign exchange market that determines the price of goods and services.

Report courtesy: Associated Press

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