Africa’s eurobond outlook 2019

A good overview of Africa’s  $92bn eurobond market, with a summary of 2018 and 5 key themes for 2019, written by Gregory Smith, Director and Fixed Income Strategist for Emerging Markets at Renaissance Capital, is available on LinkedIn.

Overall there are 20 African eurobond issuers with the largest issuers South Africa, Egypt and Nigeria, also Africa’s 3 largest economies.

About 2018, he wrote: “Despite the tough markets 2018 was a record year for African sovereign issuance and saw a growing preference for euro-denominated eurobonds, and longer maturity eurobonds. The $25.8 billion issued by African countries in 2018 makes up 28% of the current stock of African eurobonds. Angola, Egypt, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal and South Africa each issued 30-year paper.”

Source: Renaissance Capital

As highlighted previously, there were 2 upgrades in credit ratings for Eurobond issuers during 2018. S&P upgraded Ghana and Republic of Congo. However, Moody’s downgraded 5 countries: Angola, Kenya, Gabon, Tunisia and S&P and Fitch joined in downgrading Zambia.

Key trends Smith focuses on for 2019:

  1. International market turbulence is the top trend. It will be good news for many African countries if the US dollar gets weaker internationally and the US Federal Reserve holds back from raising US interest rates as much as previously anticipated. But there are global downside risks to issuers, including lower global growth impacted by strained US-China relations.
  2. Will key issuers make enough progress with economic reforms? Reforms such as lower deficits and adequate foreign exchange reserves are needed to support economic growth and make the debt sustainable. If markets get tough in 2019 (see previous), reforming economies do best. Check Smith’s list of 10 African Eurobond issuers busy with reform programmes under guidance of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the 2 issuers, Zambia and Republic of Congo, still talking but not ready to start IMF programmes.
  3. Policymakers’ skills at managing their debt, particularly as a period of heavy bond repayments begins in 2022 and remains high until 2025. Strong debt management skills include “economic policy coordination, an understanding of debt risks, a debt strategy, good data management, regular public reporting, good investor communication, a skilled team that can negotiate good terms with potential global lenders” as well as redeeming some debt ahead of maturity by longer term issues
  4. Elections in eurobond issuers this year (in approximate date order): Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Mozambique, Tunisia and Namibia.
  5. This year is unlikely to see as many eurobonds issued as last year. “Those most likely to issue in 2019 include Egypt, Angola, Ghana, and Kenya”.

For deeper analysis and more details and charts, see the original posting on LinkedIn here.

 NB Gregory Smith points out his views are for information, they do not constitute investment advice.

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