Rising Consumer Debt: Nigerians Borrow N290bn in Three Months Amid Economic Struggles

As Nigeria grapples with a challenging economic environment, the recent Economic Report for the Second Quarter of 2023 by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) reveals a concerning trend—Nigerians have borrowed approximately N290 billion from banks in just three months.

Consumer Credit Surge

According to the report, consumer credit, encompassing personal and retail loans, surged by 12.2%, escalating from N2.35 trillion in Q1 2023 to N2.64 trillion in Q2 2023. This rapid increase signifies a borrowing spike of N290 billion within the span of April to June 2023.

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Composition of Consumer Credit

Out of the total consumer credit, personal loans accounted for a significant share at N1.92 trillion (72.9%), while retail loans made up N715.10 billion (27.1%). This composition reflects the diverse borrowing needs of Nigerians in the face of economic pressures.

Inflation and Economic Struggles

The surge in consumer credit is attributed to heightened demand for personal loans and the reinforced implementation of the Loan-to-Deposit Ratio (LDR) policy. Nigeria is grappling with rising inflation, with predictions of hitting 30% by December 2023. This inflationary pressure has led to increased costs across essentials like food, fuel, and rent.

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Impact on Poverty and Borrowing Patterns

The World Bank reported that inflation pushed an estimated four million more Nigerians into poverty in the first five months of the year. SBM Intelligence’s findings indicate that 27% of Nigerians, spanning different income categories, resort to loan apps to sustain living expenses amidst rising inflation.

LDR Policy Enforcement

The CBN resumed the enforcement of the LDR policy in July 2023, aimed at encouraging banks to increase consumer, mortgage, and corporate credits to stimulate aggregate demand, output growth, and employment. Banks are required to maintain a minimum loan-to-funding ratio (LDR) as part of this policy.

As Nigerians navigate economic challenges, the surge in consumer debt reflects the complex financial landscape and the coping mechanisms adopted by individuals to meet daily needs and contend with inflationary pressures. The CBN’s policy initiatives aim to strike a balance between credit distribution and economic growth amidst turbulent times.