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Nigeria's forex crisis; Egypt goes in search of gold and Guinea's plans to pick perfect potatoes

Nigeria's forex crisis; Egypt goes in search of gold and Guinea's plans to pick perfect potatoes

Business Africa

This week we examine Nigeria’s decision to relax its controversial policy on foreign exchange currency, Egypt’s bid to find gold again in its dormant mining industry and Guinea’s plans to modernise its potato farming methods.

Nigeria’s forex crisis

It’s been said that by some that if Nigeria sneezes then West Africa, and beyond, catches a cold. That’s why its foreign exchange policy is so important.

Efforts to maintain a currency peg with the US dollar have only boosted a black market for the naira and foreign cash reserves have dropped to their lowest level in more than ten years. For months the government has imposed tough restrictions, blocking the use of Naira credit and debit cards abroad, and for online transactions requiring payment in foreign currencies.

That has caused trouble enough for ordinary Nigerians but it’s also been a huge and costly headache for businesses operating in the country.

Spain’s Iberia and US carrier United are stopping flights to Nigeria as a result. Between them it’s estimated they can’t repatriate some 600 million dollars in ticket sales because of the restrictions. But earlier this week, President Buhari perhaps bowed to pressure and said Nigeria’s forex policy must be more flexible. Reporter Michael Dibie explains why the stakes are so high.

Gold digging in Egypt

Egypt’s search for gold dates back to the Pharoahs. Some of its long forgotten mines are thought to stretch as far as Eritrea and Saudi Arabia. Increasingly, geologists believe that underneath Egypt’s dusty desert landscapes lie many more hidden treasures. So, the government plans to dig deep and revive the industry in the hope it will add upwards of 5 percent GDP within ten years. Claire Muthinji and Johnson Wahany report.

Perfecting potato picking in Guinea

In Guinea the government has been making an effort to industrialise the production of potatoes and create new fair trade options. The country has traditionally relied on mining for its export wealth but it’s hoped new technology and farming methods could give the sector a much needed boost. Victor Musiyo and Armelle Nke-Nga have more.