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Nigeria braces for double-barrelled rate hike to tame inflation, boost Naira

Brace yourselves, Nigerians! The nation stands on the cusp of two potentially aggressive interest rate hikes in quick succession, a Reuters poll revealed on Friday. This bold move aims to curb soaring inflation and bolster the battered naira currency.

After a two-meeting hiatus, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is poised to hold its first monetary policy meeting on February 27th, under the leadership of Governor Olayemi Cardoso. Analysts predict a significant rate hike, with the median forecast pointing to a 225 basis point jump, pushing the rate to a staggering 21.00%.

While the majority favours a hefty increase, opinions vary. One analyst proposes a modest 50 basis point hike, while another suggests a drastic 1,000 basis point climb. This range reflects the uncertainty surrounding the CBN’s intentions and the appetite for such an aggressive move.

“We expect significant policy tightening,” declared Razia Khan of Standard Chartered, emphasising the need to attract foreign investment and stabilise inflation expectations.


The urgency for action is undeniable. Consumer inflation in Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, has been on the rise for 13 straight months, reaching a scorching 29.90% in January. This has squeezed household budgets and eroded the purchasing power of many Nigerians.

Adding to the pressure, the CBN’s absence from the policy scene since July has raised concerns about its commitment to tackling these economic challenges. However, recent announcements of back-to-back meetings in February and March suggest a renewed focus on addressing the crisis.

Analysts at Barclays commend this swift action, highlighting the need to catch up with other central banks that hold regular policy meetings. They expect this “double dosage” of rate hikes to be a vital step towards regaining control of the economic narrative.

The naira’s woes are also a major concern. The official market saw the currency plunge to its weakest level ever on Wednesday, trading at 1,680.5 per dollar. This chronic shortage of U.S. dollars further complicates the economic picture.


While the recent devaluation might offer some balance of payments stability, David Omojomolo, Africa economist at Capital Economics, warns that further weakening on the black market remains a risk.

Experts like Charlie Robertson, head of macro strategy at FIM Partners, urge Nigeria to follow the lead of countries like Kenya and Zambia in aggressively tightening monetary policy. He argues that stabilising the naira is crucial for economic growth, and that rate hikes, despite potential short-term pain, would ultimately benefit the nation.

As the February 27th meeting approaches, Nigerians await the CBN’s decision with bated breath. Will the double-barreled rate hike be enough to tame inflation and bolster the naira? Only time will tell, but one thing is certain: decisive action is needed to navigate these turbulent economic waters.

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