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Import restrictions affect African businesses

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By Abiodun Okunloye

Shortages of foreign currency and restrictions impact post-pandemic recovery.

According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), import restrictions have made conducting business operations in Nigeria and other African countries challenging. In its report on the economic outlook for Sub-Saharan Africa, titled ‘A Tepid and Pricey Recovery,’ the fund described the recovery as slow and costly. Import restrictions and foreign currency shortages may jeopardise the post-pandemic recovery for regional companies, posing double challenges that could impact profitability. Furthermore, countries like Angola, Chad, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Nigeria face challenges in conducting business due to a lack of foreign currency and restrictions.

This occurs as businesses in the area have recently shifted gears and bounced back to pre-pandemic profitability levels. The report highlighted that as interest rates increase, countries in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) are forced to shift their focus from important capital investments to paying off debt, creating challenges for the region’s recovery amid worldwide uncertainties and unexpected events. The IMF reported that divesting in these areas leads to poor educational achievements and increased community food Insecurity. A recent report highlighted the fact that in the SSA region, only 65 percent of students finish both their primary and secondary Education, which falls short of the global average of 87 percent.

Food insecurity is a serious problem in Nigeria and the DR Congo.

Moreover, as experts have observed, food insecurity is widespread in the region, particularly in Nigeria and the DR Congo. The lack of available funds due to the liquidity squeeze puts the region’s future growth opportunities at risk, particularly for upcoming generations. The development needs are substantial and have been further exacerbated by the lasting impacts of the pandemic. For instance, nearly three out of 10 school-aged children require primary and secondary education access. Among those enrolled in primary school, only a few successfully finished it.

Several factors contribute to the region’s low primary and secondary education completion rates. These include Poverty, lack of access to quality education facilities, inadequate resources for schools, high dropout rates due to social and cultural norms, early marriage and pregnancy among girls, limited support for students with disabilities, insufficiently trained teachers, and conflict and instability in certain areas. Also, there is a lack of government Investment in education, disparities in Gender Equality, and limited awareness about the importance of education among communities.

Economic challenges impact climate change and sustainability in the region.

Import restrictions and foreign currency shortages in the country and other African countries have created a challenging operating environment for industries. The inability to access crucial raw materials, machinery, and Technology due to import restrictions has decreased production levels and reduced competitiveness in the global market. Businesses relying on imported inputs are struggling to meet consumer demands and sustain profitability. The scarcity of foreign currency has made it difficult for companies to engage in International Trade transactions, affecting Economic Growth and development in these regions.

Due to the current economic situation, key development in Sub-Saharan Africa is being neglected, including investment in Infrastructure, particularly in rural areas where access to basic services such as clean water, Sanitation, and Electricity is limited. There is a need for increased investment in education and healthcare to improve human capital and workforce Productivity. The current economic challenges have also affected efforts to address Climate Change and environmental Sustainability, with limited financial resources available for Renewable Energy and conservation initiatives.

Related Article: IMF caution on FG’s domestic dollar bond plan

Global economic trends, such as rising interest rates and geopolitical uncertainties, also impact Sub-Saharan Africa’s economic recovery by creating challenges for the region. The higher interest rates can lead to increased borrowing costs for African countries, which affect their ability to invest in infrastructure and development projects. Geopolitical uncertainties, such as trade tensions and conflicts, can disrupt economic activity and impact regional investor confidence. As a result, the region’s economic recovery may need help in the face of these global trends, potentially slowing down growth and development in the region.


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