Nigeria bonds

African dollar bonds are increasingly gaining mainstream acceptance as the continent’s brisk economic growth and low interest rates in the developed world help buoy demand for high-yielding debt.

The size of Africa’s dollar-denominated debt market, not including South Africa, is now more than $20bn, accounting for 6 per cent of JP Morgan’s EMBI index. In sub-Saharan Africa, issuance of international sovereign bonds hit a record $6.9bn this year, with offerings from Kenya, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Ghana, Zambia and South Africa.

But amid the excitement over Africa’s growing role in international capital markets, some are beginning to question just how healthy the dollar borrowing spree is. 

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. 

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. 

Why change a winning formula? The International Finance Corporation was successful when it launched its first naira-denominated bond earlier this year, raising $76.3m after orders came in for more than double the original $50m offering. Now it’s back for seconds. And thirds.

The private sector arm of the World Bank will launch a series of bonds totaling $1bn in a bid to create more liquid capital markets in Africa’s second biggest economy, officials told beyondbrics. 

Nigeria’s capital markets received a filip in October when the country was admitted to JP Morgan’s emerging market Government Bond Index, a move that that could potentially attract $1.5bn of new capital inflow into the country. Now there’s some more good news for sub-Saharan Africa’s second biggest economy, and this time it is the thinly-traded corporate debt market which stands to benefit.

The International Finance Corporation, the World Bank’s investment banking arm, is getting ready to launch a five-year naira-denominated bond, aimed to develop local capital markets.