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27.01.2024 Featured Low Naira Exchange Rate Complicates Life for Nigerians in Ivory Coast for AFCON

Published 27th Jan, 2024

By Olayide Soaga

Before leaving Nigeria for Ivory Coast for the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) tournament on January 15, Toyosi Afolayan, a sports journalist at Bounce Networks, was excited about the thought of going to cover the tournament.

Now, the exchange rate is stealing his joy. “It has been a sad tale, to be honest. If not for passion and because it is my job, I would have opted out,” Toyosi told FIJ in an interview.

“Before leaving Nigeria, I had thought the currencies would be on a par with each other, but to my surprise, they are not.”

When he first arrived in Ivory Coast, he exchanged N20,000 for 9,500 CFA. This morning, Toyosi exchanged N20,000 naira for 9,150 CFA, signifying that the naira took a 3.8 percent nosedive during the 12 days that he had been there.

Although this figure may seem insignificant, the impact this has on Toyosi and other Nigerians who travelled to Ivory Coast for the football tournament is distressing.

The Nigerian currency, Naira, has been struggling to stay afloat in the foreign exchange market. Almost every day, Nigerians wake up to the news of the naira falling against the dollar, but the dollar is not the only currency the naira is crashing against.

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Naira is also crashing against the currencies of other African countries, the CFA for instance. The experiences of people like Toyosi and other Nigerians in Ivory Coast for AFCON make this even more glaring.

LIVING LARGE ON PAST GLORY

In the years following Nigeria’s independence, and up until the early 2000s, Naira was one of the leading currencies in Africa. Nigerians who travelled to other countries for business and other activities had little to no problems with the exchange rate.

For many years, Naira has been crashing against the dollar and other currencies. In 2023, Bloomberg revealed that the naira was the world’s third worst-performing currency. The World Bank also referred to it as one of the worst-performing currencies in Africa that same year.

This ugly situation has cost the country’s economy so much and has affected the lives and businesses of people, as it is also driving inflation.

In a bid to reverse this situation and make the naira regain its place in the foreign exchange market, Tinubu’s administration announced the unification of all segments of the forex exchange in June 2023, thus leading to the devaluation of the naira.

According to the Centre for Research in Entreprise and Action in Management (CREM), devaluation can make travelling abroad more expensive for the common man. In addition to this, the cost of flights, accommodation and other expenses denominated in foreign currencies become more expensive as Naira weakens.

This is what Toyosi and others are experiencing in real time. Before Toyosi proceeds to buy a commodity or spend money on a service, he will first pause and convert it to Naira. He does this because he earns in Naira.

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“I thought I would be able to save money. But as it is, I am short of funds, and the tournament is still midway,” said Toyosi.

“It has an effect on my savings. I would have loved to save money for my return to Lagos, but as it stands, I would have little or nothing aside from my salary.”

SIMILAR EXPERIENCES

Toyosi is not unusual. Justina Aniefiok, a Nigerian freelance sports photographer who travelled to Ivory Coast for AFCON, also expressed her displeasure with the exchange rate. Recently, she changed N200,000 for 92,000 CFA.

Like Toyosi, Justina converts the price of a commodity to Naira before proceeding to make a purchase. “Before I spend any money, I first calculate and ask myself if it is really necessary or I should just keep my money for the next day,” Justina said.

Wisdom Akinbode, another Nigerian who is currently in Ivory Coast for the football tournament, told FIJ how he was being reminded about the poor value of the naira while in Abidjan, the country’s capital city, where AFCON is taking place.

“The money changers keep telling me that the naira is useless and has no value. They won’t even accept to change the naira because they feel they will be stuck with it,” he said.

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Published 27th Jan, 2024

By Olayide Soaga

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