Britain’s exit from the EU couldn’t have come at a worst time for Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy. At a time when the government is trying to fix an economy on the brink of a recession by removing strict currency controls and also liberalizing oil prices, the immediate effect of Brexit will test the nerves of Nigeria’s economic managers as global markets plummet.

Bilateral trade between Nigeria and the UK,currently valued at £6 billion(about $8.3 billion) and projected to reach £20 billion by 2020, will be disrupted as trade agreements made under the auspices of the EU have to be renegotiated.

“For Nigeria, global risk aversion as well as a softer oil price is likely to mean that new portfolio inflows are slow to materialize,” says Khan. “This may delay the normal functioning of the newly liberalized FX market.

”Data from the National Bureau of Statistics shows that the UK was Nigeria’s largest source of foreign investment in 2015.A slowing British economy and its reverberating effects could signal a drop in investment, trade, and also remittances from the Nigerian diaspora who sent home $21 billion in 2015.Reduced trade and investment from Britain will not necessarily be plugged by the rest of the EU, say Lagos-based economist Tunji Andrews.

“The EU will be looking to strengthen it’s internal ties, plus there’s cheaper oil from Iran, cheaper labor from China and the eastern block.

There’s really nothing we have as a competitive advantage to them right now.”Brexit is already fueling other independence campaigns. Within hours of the vote, leaders in France and Holland, Italy and Denmark called for their own referendums on leaving the EU. This sentiment is shared in southeast Nigeria as well, where government forces have spent much of the past year quelling violent protests by activists advocating for the secession and establishment of an independent country called Biafra. Having already called for a referendum earlier in the year, pro-Biafra activists may now be further emboldened.

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