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Dangote: The Nigerian Economy will bounce back

Africa’s richest man, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, has allayed concerns over the Nigerian economy brought on by declining oil revenue and political uncertainty over the elections, stating that the country is strong and will bounce back.

Speaking on Wednesday, the business mogul said every country faces challenges when markets go through periods of booms and busts, but there was no reason to be concerned about the Nigerian economy, as its fundamentals are strong.

He said the Nigerian economy was simply passing through a temporary setback owing to low commodity prices, but expressed confidence that the country has the capacity to emerge stronger in a few months.

“As long as we manage our resources properly, even with crude oil selling at $50 per barrel, Nigeria has the capacity to pull through because the fundamentals are strong.

“So what we are going through should just be seen as a temporary setback,” he said.

Dangote, who has seen N1.6 trillion of his flagship company, Dangote Cement Plc, wiped out since falling oil prices  precipitated massive losses in the Nigerian equities market and a devaluation of the naira against the greenback, said he has absolute confidence in the economy and would continue to invest in it, as appreciable returns on investment were guaranteed in Africa’s biggest market.

In the meantime, Nigeria’s stocks rose for the eighth day yesterday in what Bloomberg described as the longest winning streak since July 2013, as investors bought into companies they deemed oversold following declines spurred by concerns that lower oil prices and elections may hurt the economy.

“Bargain hunters are taking advantage of the low price of a number of stocks,” Ikechukwu Iheanacho, who helps manage about N6 billion ($30 million) of equities and bonds at Chapel Hill Denham Securities Limited.

“They have suffered far beyond what the fundamentals would suggest, largely on the back of oil and foreign investors coming out of the market ahead of the elections,” he added.

The Nigerian Stock Exchange All Share Index rose from 0.2 per cent to 30,195.56 by the close of trading yesterday, extending its eight-day gain to 9.5 per cent.

Stock prices fell to 7.2 times estimated earnings on February 13, the lowest in Africa and below the MSCI Frontier Markets Index multiple of 9.9.

But valuations rebounded to eight times predicted earnings for the next 12 months yesterday.

Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, the biggest bank by market value, has climbed the most in the last eight days, rising 36 per cent. FBN Holdings Plc, which owns Nigeria’s largest lender by assets, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, was up 22 per cent, while Zenith Bank Plc increased by 20 per cent in the period.

GT Bank and Zenith are “some of our favourite shares,” said Iheanacho. “They are among the banks that have the greatest propensity to weather the storm.”

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