Nigeria Consumer Inflation Falls Again In November


Nigeria's consumer price inflation fell for a third month in November as food price rises slowed again, shrugging off weakness in the naira currency that threatens to push up living costs ahead of next year's election.

The statistics bureau said on Sunday that inflation last month was 7.9 percent, down from 8.1 percent in October. Food price inflation declined to 9.1 percent from 9.3 percent.

“After peaking in August this year at 10.0 percent (year-on-year), the food index has continued to moderate,” the statistics bureau said in a statement. “The Food index rose by 9.1 percent (year-on-year) in November, down by 0.2 percentage points lower from 9.3 percent recorded in October.”

Nigeria's inflation rate has remained at record low levels in the single digits for the past two years but could rise in December as a result of the central bank's 8 percent devaluation of the naira on Nov. 25.

The central bank also increased interest rates by 2 percentage points to 14 percent to help protect its foreign reserves, after spending several billion dollars to defend the local currency from the impact of plunging oil prices.

Oil, OPEC member Nigeria's main export and source of revenues, has lost more than 45 percent of its value since June.

The impact of the devaluation is already being felt on the streets, with traders saying they have had to raise prices, often at the expense of losing customers.

The country grows most of its own food, but imports a number of staples like wheat and rice, making currency weakness an extremely sensitive issue for poorer Nigerians.

A surge in living costs would be a headache for President Goodluck Jonathan less than three months before what is likely to be a closely fought presidential election.

On Sunday, the statistics bureau also said the value of merchandise trade in the third quarter was 6,299.7 billion naira ($35 billion), down 5.4 percent from the previous three months.

The value of Nigeria's imports fell by 7.9 percent to 1,820.3 billion naira ($10.1 billion) in July-September compared with the second quarter, primarily because mineral fuel imports declined.

China, the United States, Belgium, India and the Netherlands were the top five countries of import origin, accounting for a combined 23.6 percent of the total.

The value of Nigeria's exports declined by 4.3 percent to 4,479.5 billion ($24.9 billion) naira in Q3 versus the previous quarter. India was the main export destination accounting for 15.3 percent of the total, followed by Spain, the Netherlands, South Africa and Brazil.