Uganda is not, after all, jumping onto Africa’s sovereign bandwagon.

The East African country, a perennial candidate in the continent along with Ethiopia and Algeria to issue dollar-denominated debt, not only says that it is not ready to debut in the global capital markets but has also warned others about the dangers.

Emmanuel Mutebile, governor of the central bank, told The East African newspaper that African countries should “not be complacent about the dangers of big projects built on sovereign debt”, adding that African countries would “never again get debt relief”. Continue reading »

For Ghana, which is battling a massive fiscal crisis, the answer is football. The government has ordered one of the country’s biggest industries to reduce production to guarantee enough electricity for television coverage of the World Cup.

The West African country, which is expected to suffer a double-digit fiscal deficit in 2014 for the third year in a row, told the Volta Aluminium Company (Valco), to “reduce energy consumption during periods when Ghana would be playing”. Aluminium smelters are among the biggest consumers of power and, with limited supplies, the country was facing rolling blackouts during the next few weeks when millions of television sets will turn on simultaneously for the football matches. Continue reading »

When Zambia last week approached the International Monetary Fund for financial help, another cash-strapped African country was surely watching: Ghana.

Lusaka and Accra face similar problems: runaway fiscal deficits – the result of electorally-driven increases in public sector salaries – and a swelling current account deficit that is pressuring the exchange rate.

The market response to Zambia’s request should convince Ghana to seek help, too. Continue reading »

Nigeria is receiving a large influx in foreign portfolio flows in spite of investors’ unease following the terror campaign of Boko Haram, after a closely-tracked index provider increased significantly the weighing of Africa’s largest economy.

MSCI, whose indices are followed by billions of US dollars from institutional investors, has lifted the weight of Nigeria’s equity market on its popular MSCI Frontier markets to about 19 per cent, up from 12 per cent previously. Continue reading »

Ghana plans to brave into the sovereign bond market before the northern hemisphere’s summer this year, the finance minister, Seth Terkper, told the Financial Times on Friday. The plan comes in spite of a mounting economic crisis in the West African country.

The bond would test the appetite of investors for frontier and emerging countries battling with high fiscal deficits and rapidly rising debt levels at the same time as the US Federal Reserve “tapers” its monetary stimulus. Continue reading »

The Nigerian economy has enough resilience to ride out the wave of Boko Haram terror attacks, the country’s finance minister said in an attempt to persuade foreign investors to keep their holdings in local bonds and stocks.

Nigeria is Africa’s largest economy and a magnet for international investors, which have poured billions of dollars into factories, oil fields and its local securities market.

“We are sticking to our growth forecast of 6.75 per cent [for 2014]. It is realistic. Any losses in the northeast [where Boko Haram is more active] will be made up by activity elsewhere,” Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala told the Financial Times in an interview. Continue reading »

Two African countries – Senegal and South Africa – are just months away from issuing sukuk, or Islamic bonds, seeking to attract cash-rich Middle Eastern and Asian investors to finance their large infrastructure programmes, Islamic finance bankers told a meeting of the African Development Bank.

The move represents a potentially significant boost for the profile of Islamic finance in Africa. Until now, Gambia and Sudan have been the only countries on the continent to issue a sukuk – and they were only for tiny sums. Continue reading »

After a day of upbeat comments on Monday, delegates attending the African Development Bank’s annual meeting are sounding a little more cautious on Tuesday, highlighting some of the big challenges that the continent needs to overcome.

For all the progress made over the last decade and a half, Africa remains poor and, often, hungry. Donald Kaberuka, the AfDB’s president, summarised the sentiment, telling delegates in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda: “You can not eat GDP.” Continue reading »

Official statistics put Africa’s GDP at about $1.5tn. But Mthuli Ncube, chief economist at the African Development Bank (AfDB), told delegates at the bank’s annual meeting that in reality the figure is a third larger: $2trn, “if not higher”.

The reason? African countries are revising their economic statistics, measuring for the first time in decades booming sectors such as banking and telecommunications. When earlier this year Nigeria updated its statistics, it nearly doubled its GDP estimate. Ghana found its GDP to be 60 per cent larger than thought in a similar update in 2010. Continue reading »

The multi-billion dollar wave of foreign direct investment into Africa is well known among investors. Less known is another significant development: a surge in what regional policy makers refer to as Africa direct investment.

The share of intra-African investments in the continent’s FDI reached a record 23 per cent last year, up from just 8 per cent five years ago, according to consultancy group EY. “Cross-border FDI in Africa is set to accelerate further, as local firms seek new markets,” EY says in a new report, “Africa attractiveness survey 2014: Executing Growth“. Continue reading »

Of the 45 countries the International Monetary Fund tracks in sub-Saharan Africa, all but one will see their economies grow this year. The exception? Equatorial Guinea.

The IMF forecasts that the tiny oil-rich West African country’s economy will contract by 2.4 per cent in 2014, going into recession after having contracted by 4.9 per cent in 2013.

Worse, the multilateral body expects a third year of negative growth in 2015, with the economy plunging an extreme 8.3 per cent due to a drop in hydrocarbons output, according to the IMF’s recently released twice yearly review of the regionContinue reading »

Nigeria has overtaken South Africa to become Africa’s largest economy after the government released updated figures that raised the country’s gross domestic product by 89 per cent to $509bn.

The re-calculation rightly put most Nigerian officials in celebratory mood. But Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the country’s finance minister (pictured), offered also a cautious note: the new figures do highlight some acute problems. Continue reading »

Africa’s impressive economic growth over the last decade has so far failed to reduce poverty, according to one of the largest surveys ever carried across the continent.

The Afrobarometer survey, which polled more than 50,000 people in 34 African countries over three years, is a reminder that the “Africa rising” narrative of strong economic growth, which has become a popular theme among international investors over the last two years, is so far only benefiting a small minority at the top. Continue reading »

Commodities bosses have spent the last two years trying to put as much rhetorical distance as possible between their companies and South Africa.

Not Ivan Glasenberg (pictured), chief executive of Glencore Xtrata and a South African himself. Undeterred by a negative perception of his mother country caused by crippling strikes, rising costs and often unreliable government policies, he has just announced an even closer relationship with South Africa. Continue reading »

Mozambique has joined the debt spree in sub-Saharan Africa with a state-backed agency tapping investors’ appetite for high yields and frontier markets with the country’s first ever US dollar-denominated bond. Continue reading »