The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN has redesigned its application form for small businesses to provide a quicker access for them to access foreign exchange.

The apex bank cut the amount of paperwork small and medium-size businesses must provide to buy dollars on Tuesday, to improve liquidity and the ease of doing business and help narrow the gap between official and black market exchange rates.

Faced with a shortage of dollars and numerous requirements to fulfil when buying hard currency from the central bank, most small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) use the black market instead, even though the Naira is much weaker there.

To address this, the central bank said it was switching to a new application form for those seeking to buy forex at its official window that would require only an invoice and account details of the suppliers providing the goods to be bought with foreign currency.

Its previous system had required more detailed supporting documents, it said.

"The objective of this new guideline is to ease the obstacles encountered by the SMEs and improve retail business access to the foreign exchange market," the bank said in a statement, adding that the changes were taking immediate effect.