Nigeria’s inflation rate climbed to a fresh 18-year high on surging transport costs and food prices, adding to pressure on the central bank to raise borrowing costs when it meets next month.
Consumer prices rose an annual 24.1% in July, compared with 22.8% in the prior month, according to the data published on the National Bureau of Statistics’ website on Tuesday. Inflation was last at that level in September 2005. The median estimate of seven economists in a Bloomberg survey was 23.6%. Prices rose 2.9% month-on-month.
The uptick was broad-based with annual food inflation quickening to 27% in July from 25.3% a month earlier and core, which excludes farm produce, accelerating to 20.5% from 20.3%.
The upswings were fueled by a 40% slump in the naira against the dollar since June, the widening spread between the official and parallel market rate, and the removal of costly fuel subsides introduced in the 1970s.
The currency depreciation is being stoked by dollar shortages, the easing of foreign-exchange controls, and revelations in the central bank’s long-delayed financial statements that effective forex reserves at its disposal were much lower than previously disclosed.
Acting central bank Governor Folashodun Shonubi on Monday blamed the widening spread on speculators and said the regulator would act soon to address it.
“Sooner rather than later, the speculators should be careful, because we believe the things we’re doing when they come to fruition may result in significant losses to them,” he told reporters in Abuja, the capital.
The currency pressures and second round effects from the scrapping of fuel subsidies may persuade the central bank’s monetary policy committee to increase interest rates at its Sept. 25-26 meeting for an unprecedented ninth time in a row.
The MPC has increased rates by 725 basis points since May 2022 to rein in inflation that’s been at more than double the top end of its 6% to 9% target range for over a year.