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LAGOS, March 14 Nigeria's inflation rate bucked
the trend in February to fall to 17.78 percent, its lowest level
in 15 months, driven by a slower rise in general price levels,
the National Bureau of Statistics said on Tuesday.
Inflation had risen to 18.72 percent in January, its 12th
monthly rise and its highest level in more than 11 years, as
Africa's biggest economy grapples with an economic recession, a
currency crisis and dollar shortages, brought on by low oil
prices, its mainstay.
The central bank, under pressure to narrow the gap between
the official and black market rates, has devalued the naira for
consumers, offering to sell them dollars at about half the
premium the black market charges.
It has also increased dollar sales in recent weeks to
importers to try to boost the naira. Nigeria has limited
manufacturing capacity and depends on imports for local
A separate food index showed inflation at 18.53 percent from
17.82 percent in January, the statistics office said in a
report, pushed up by the rise in food staples such as bread,
cereal and meat, while drink prices slowed.
Last week the government unveiled sweeping economic recovery
plans, including measures to reduce its dependence on oil and to
relax foreign exchange restrictions, in a drive to pull Africa's
top oil producer out of its first recession in 25 years.
It forecasts inflation to be at 15.74 percent at year-end
and 12.42 percent in 2018, which if achieved, could alleviate
widespread frustration with living costs, analysts say.
(Reporting by Chijioke Ohuocha; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)