Africa News blog
African business, politics and lifestyle
“Europe possibly needs an Afribond,” commented one contributor this week on the Thomson Reuters chatroom for fixed income markets in Kenya.
A nice quip from Henry Kirimania of The Cooperative Bank of Kenya and a reminder of just how much better placed Africa is now in terms of its debt burden than it once was and particularly in relation to what might now be regarded as the world’s Heavily Indebted Formerly Rich Countries.
“It used to be that when you thought about highly indebted countries, you thought about those in our part of the world,” Maria Ramos, head of South Africa’s Absa Bank told the recent World Economic Forum on Africa. “You can’t any longer.”
By global standards, African debt has also performed fairly well during the crisis over Greece. Although the yield on Ghana’s Eurobond spiked when concerns over Greece reached fever pitch before the EU and IMF safety net announced at the weekend, it has been on a steady downtrend and has fallen back somewhat this week.
Where once African officials might have viewed infrastructure projects solely as a good source of kickbacks, these days there is pressure from electorates, at least in some countries, to deliver on promises of improvements.
The growth that many African states have enjoyed in recent years has exposed the failure of the continent’s infrastructure still more starkly – with even South Africa suffering the kind of power outages that much of the rest of Africa has grown far too used to.
Isolation might seem like a good idea when it comes to the storm sweeping global finance and there is no doubt that African countries are among the most isolated in the world economy.
Avoiding the impact seems unlikely, though, particularly at a time when Africa as a whole has been enjoying its fastest growth for decades and the continent has become an increasingly popular investment destination – not only for Asian countries in search of resources but for frontier investors willing to take higher risks for higher returns.