…curbs Nigeria’s pre-election cash surge

For the first time on record, cash in circulation in Africa’s largest economy dropped ahead of elections following the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) decision to redesign high-value naira notes, according to a Bloomberg report. The amount of currency circulating in the economy declined 4% to N3.16 trillion ($6.9 billion) in November from the previous month, CBN data shows.

That breaks a trend common with all six elections Nigeria has held since democracy returned in 1999. Money in circulation jumped ahead of each of those polls due to increased campaign spending in the West African nation’s cashdominant economy.

Nigeria holds presidential elections on Feb. 25 and campaigns kicked off in September. This means “some of the excess cash is actually going into the banking system,” Abdulazeez Kuranga, macroeconomic strategist at Lagos-based Cordros Capital Ltd., said by phone. The central bank limits on cash are “encouraging electronic transactions,” he said.

The CBN in October announced plans to redesign highest-value banknotes for freshly-issued bills. It gave citizens until the end of January to change their old notes for new ones at the banks, with the aim to bring an estimated N2.7 trillion that circulates in informal channels into the regular banking system.

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