Amidst the forex scarcity crisis in Nigeria, the annual foreign exchange outflow via study expenses to the UK hit about $2.5 billion as visa applications increased.
The Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele revealed this during the 57th annual bankers dinner of the Charted Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) which held in Lagos in December 2022.
Emefiele noted that due to the number of student visas issued to Nigeria by the United Kingdom (U.K), annual foreign exchange outflow rose significantly to 66,000 in 2022.
This was even as he revealed that despite the Nigerian FX market being in the middle of serious crunch, the number of student visa issued to Nigerians by the UK alone increased from an annual average of about 8,000 visas as of 2020 to nearly 66,000 in 2022.
Daily Sun investigations revealed that a large portion of the country’s middle class has adopted the “japa syndrome” due to Nigeria’s economic slump over the last decade.
Japa, a Yoruba word which means “to run or escape,” has become a popular slang among Nigerians who are trying to or have already successfully departed their country in search of better opportunities abroad.
For instance, the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors recently revealed there are only approximately 10,000 resident doctors left in the nation and roughly 100 of them depart the country every month.
According to a Cigna survey, younger individuals are now more eager to start an ex-pat life than older ones. 37 per cent of those between the ages of 18 and 24 and 34 per cent of those between the ages of 25 and 34 are willing to leave.
In comparison, only 13 per cent of individuals over 50 who participated in the study expressed interest in relocating to a foreign nation.
Emefiele while noting that the FX crisis was straining the country’s reserves and stifling the value of the Naira, added that the official foreign exchange receipt from crude oil sales into the country’s official reserves has dried up steadily from above $3.0 billion monthly in 2014 to an absolute zero dollars today.
“To put this drawback into perspective, it is equally no news that the number of student visa issued to Nigerians by the UK alone has increased from an annual average of about 8,000 visas as of 2020 to nearly 66,000 in 2022, which implies an eight-folds surge to about US$2.5 billion annually in study-related foreign exchange outflow to the UK alone”, the CBN boss said.
He maintained that it was against the backdrop of the worsening mismatch between foreign exchange market demand and supply, and the need to boost foreign exchange earnings that the CBN and the Bankers’ Committee initiated the RT200 programme in February 2022.
According to him, the rebate scheme of the programme has seen the apex bank reimbursed a total of N78.4 billion, a fair price, he said that will stabilise the country’s FX market.
Emefiele thereafter revealed that the Naira-4-Dollar scheme initiative which reflects the CBN’s efforts to boost migrant remittances into the Nigeria economy, has been successful in increasing remittance inflows through its registered International Money Transfer Organization (IMTOs).