Nigeria’s naira, Ghana’s cedi and Zambia’s kwacha have been named the worst performing African currencies in 2014.

The currencies were among a small basket that are relatively liquid, as falling commodity prices take a toll on some of the continent’s “lion” economies, according to a Reuters report.

The naira shed about 13.5 per cent last year, while South Africa’s rand fell over 10 per cent while the Kenyan and Ugandan shillings yielded about 4.5 and nine per cent respectively

On November 25, the Central Bank of Nigeria devalued the midpoint of the naira by eight per cent from 155 to 168.

The CBN blamed the naira slide on falling oil prices and speculations by currency dealers.

The cedi lost about 27 per cent in 2014, one sign of a fiscal crisis in an economy that grew strongly in previous years on gold, cocoa and oil exports. Economic growth in 2015 is seen slowing to 3.9 per cent in from an estimated 6.9 per cent last year.

The cedi slumped around 40 per cent earlier last year but a Eurobond issue, cocoa loan inflows and talks with the International Monetary Fund on a financial assistance programme helped it re-coup some losses.

Zambia’s kwacha is ended the year on the backfoot amid tax rows with mining houses, a lower growth forecast and a looming election.

Commercial banks quoted the currency of Africa’s second-largest copper producer at 6.3750 per dollar, bringing its losses over the past three weeks to three per cent and those for the year to around 15 per cent.

Zambia on Tuesday cut its 2014 growth forecast to six per cent – still brisk by global standards – from a targeted 6.5 per cent, citing operational challenges at some mines.

The forecast for the next three years is seven per cent but that may be hard to reach with copper prices near 4-1/2 year lows on mounting worries about growth in China, not to mention brewing rows with mining companies over tax issues.

Finance Minister, Alexander Chikwanda said the government intended to resolve the issue of the VAT refunds with mining companies and hoped to agree with them on new mining taxes.

He also said the government remained committed to a new mining tax regime that comes into effect on Thursday, which the industry say it can ill afford.

“Investors want to invest in a country whose economy is growing so obviously the lower forecast is bad for the kwacha. Investors are also watching how the elections go,” an analyst with the Zambia’s Copperbelt University, Lubinda Habazoka,said.

Zambia is also witholding $600m in VAT refunds owed to mining companies and will only repay the cash when companies produce import certificates from destination countries. They say this is impossible because of middlemen in the trade.

The country is due to hold a presidential election on January 20 following the death in October of its leader Michael Sata, and it is unlikely that the tax issue will be resolved before a new administration comes to power.


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