Archive for the 'Kenya' Category

Kenya pledges lower domestic rates after $8.8bn bids for its $2bn Eurobonds

Nairobi National Park (credit: Kenya Tourism Board, www.magicalkenya.com)

Nairobi National Park (credit: Kenya Tourism Board, www.magicalkenya.com)

Global investors offered a record $8.8 billion in bids for Kenya’s 5- and 10-year Eurobonds this month. The country issued $0.5bn in the 5-year bond at 5.875% and $1.5bn in the 10-year at 6.875%. The resounding success is likely to encourage more African governments to speed up plans to come to international markets for credit while cheap global rates continue and appetite is high for frontier markets debt.

This is Africa’s biggest Eurobond issue to date. According to the BBC, investors from the US took about 67% of the issue and UK investors about 25%. Bond rates on Kenya’s 10-year debt in issue came down since the new issue was first announced on 16 June to 6.41% which is 381 basis points over the similarly dated US treasuries, according to Bloomberg.

President Uhuru Kenyatta was reported on Reuters telling a news conference: “By accessing these external funds, we will reduce government borrowing from the domestic markets, thereby helping drive down interest rates which should boost investment, spur economic growth, provide more employment opportunities to our people.” He described the sale as “a vote of confidence”. At a state of the economy address on 25 June he said the funds would be used prudently to fund infrastructure including transport and energy and to fund agriculture.

Cabinet secretary for the National Treasury (equivalent to Finance Minister) Henry Rotich said: “Investors were impressed with the management of our economy and perceived it to be very strong.” He said it would diversify government’s financing for development programmes. He also said the Government would come back to the markets in the next fiscal year (starting 1 July) but may consider a sukuk bond (see here for UK’s £200 million sukuk bond success) or a diaspora bond. The sovereign is also set to be a benchmark for Kenyan firms issuing corporate bonds on international markets, similar to the success of Nigeria’s sovereign issue.

Rotich said that from 8 July the Central Bank of Kenya would start setting a new reference rate for banks, the Kenya Banks Reference Rate. Banks would have to use this, although they would still be able to add risk premiums according to the creditworthiness of borrowers. This is also expected to lower interest costs and the rate would be set according to the average of the CBK’s main lending rate and the average yield on benchmark 91-day Treasury Bills every 6 months.

The Government announced its 2014/15 budget this month and forecast a budget deficit of 7.4% of gross domestic product (GDP) and local borrowing of KES190.8bn ($2.18bn) or 4.1% of GDP, according to Reuters. Macro-economist Rotich was a colleague when Kenyatta was Finance Minister and the two are working together to speed up Kenya’s economic growth to over 10%. According to a story in the Financial Times blog Beyond Brics, Rotich says Kenya will grow at 5.8% this year and 6.4% next year, however the World Bank has just cut its forecast from an earlier 5.3% forecast for this year and forecasts 4.7% for both years.

The blog cites the World Bank report: “The new projections reflect the effects of the drought, the deteriorating security situation, the low level of budget execution, and tighter global credit as the US Federal Reserve winds down its expansive monetary policy.”

The World Bank says drought has cost Kenya $12bn over the last 10 years and that foreign direct investment (FDI) is only 1% of GDP. The blog reports: “The World Bank is also increasingly preoccupied by the impact of inequality on growth and stability.” The World Bank is optimistic and is backing Kenya with a $4bn programme, double the Eurobond.

Kenya plans $43bn of infrastructure by 2017, but there are questions as to whether they get value for money in a $3.7bn deal with Chinese for new rail and rolling stock. Kenya is likely to become a middle-income country by September after re-basing because of statistical revisions.

Nairobi Securities Exchange plans to offer 38% of shares in June IPO

nairobisecuritiesexchange_NSE21

The Nairobi Securities Exchange (www.nse.co.ke) is pushing ahead fast with its demutualization plans and will sell up to a 38% stake in an initial public offering (IPO) in June. According to a report on Reuters, NSE chief executive Peter Mwangi said the NSE will offer up to 81 million shares, subject to regulatory approval.
The offer price will be set by the IPO advisors closer to the offer date. The bourse will use the funds for new products and enhance transparency.
Reuters quoted Mwangi saying: “We want to list through an IPO on the main market. We need to open this listing before 30 June. That conversion from a private to a public company will position us to be a very effective player.”
“We are playing in a sweet spot where the frontier funds think Africa is rising. East Africa is a hot spot on the African map and we are the gateway into that east African region.”

Soaring profits, new products
The NSE’s pretax profit more than doubled to KES 379m shillings last year from 2012. It has been lifted by a surge in trading turnover after the 4 Mar 2013 presidential election went peacefully. The dynamic Nairobi exchange is a mutual company owned by its stockbrokers, and demutualization is the process converting into a private for-profit company, as reported on this blog. The ordinary shares have a nominal (par) value of KES 4 shillings ($0.05) each.
Kenya’s Capital Markets Authority is reviewing the exchange’s advanced plans to offer currency and interest-rates futures and options. The NSE futures market will offer standardized contracts for currency futures that will be traded. Mwangi said: “We are seeing more and more international investors who might want to invest in Kenya and they might want to hedge the currency risk.” Local banks offer foreign-exchange forward contracts, which are negotiated directly with buyers, but they cannot be traded.
Mwangi added that part of the funds raised in the IPO will be used to bankroll new products such as derivatives, exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and Sharia-compliant indexes. The NSE has already led the way with a number of FTSE-branded index products and is working with the CMA and CDSC to introduce a real estate investment trust (REIT) market in Kenya and trading platform and a futures and commodities exchange.

Diversifying income
The 60-year-old Nairobi stock exchange has been diversifying through new sources of revenue including sales of publications, provision of services through the Broker Back Office (BBO) and data-vending. It bought a prime commercial property in Nairobi’s Westlands area to tap into rental income, according to a report in Standard Digital.
The region is enjoying many benefits from increasing regional integration under the East African Community (EAC). The Nairobi bourse is a key player in the East African Securities Exchange Association (EASEA), which aims to standardize regulations and operations within the region to make cross-border investing easier. Members are the Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange (DSE), the Rwanda Stock Exchange (RSE), the Uganda Securities Exchange (USE), and the Central Depository and Settlement Corporation (CDSC). It also has a memorandum of understanding with the Somalia Stock Exchange Investment Corporation (SSE) under which it will have primary responsibility for the technical development of the Somalia Stock Exchange including identifying the most suitable partners and expertise.
Regional integration has also boosted expansion among listed firms and investor confidence after the discovery large quantities of gas and oil across several east African countries. There are many cross listing between the exchanges.
Mwangi said they wanted to attract more listings on the NSE’s Growth Enterprise Market (GEMS) which is aimed at small firms wishing to list their shares. There is only one listing, property developer Home Afrika so far. The NSE hopes to attract more listings through easier listing terms such as allowing business owners to offer a minimum of 15% if the shares in the market. Mwangi told family business owners who may be reluctant to lose control: “With 85% you have effective control of your company but you enjoy all the advantages of being listed. We are in a sense offering the best of both worlds.”
The NSE is a key member of the African Securities Exchanges Association and an affiliate member of the World Federation of Exchanges (WFE) and intends to become a full member.

Nairobi Securities Exchange scores megaprofits and heads for own IPO and listing


The Nairobi Securities Exchange (www.nse.co.ke) celebrated its 60th annual general meeting by taking key decisions to advance its demutualization into the final stages. It also made record profits for the financial year to 31 Dec 2013 and paid its first dividend to shareholders.
NSE Chairman Eddy Njoroge was one of the directors re-elected at the 60th annual general meeting of the exchange, held last week. He thanked the NSE shareholders for passing key resolutions and said the demutualization process is nearly finished with the next step the NSE doing an initial public offer (IPO) and then listing its shares for trading on itself. According to a press release, he noted that the Board had appointed Transaction Advisors who are currently working towards the Self-Listing of the Exchange through an IPO on the Main Investment Market Segment (MIMS) of the NSE, before the end of June 2014: “The Capital Markets Authority has received our final application, and we expect formal approval to be granted by the regulator shortly. This will open the door to the long-anticipated self-listing.
“The NSE’s impending demutualization will provide further impetus for the exchange to support the attainment of Vision 2030, further positioning our capital markets as the hub for East and Central Africa. The NSE IPO will enable a wide cross-section of Kenyans to both own a piece of the exchange and to share in the future financial success of this company with a very rich national heritage”.
The NSE had total income of KES 622.7 million ($7.2m), up 62% from the previous year’s KES 384.3m. Net profit soared 210% to KES 263m, up from KES84.8m and the highest in the bourse’s 60-year history. The total value of trading in equities was up 79% to KES 155.8 billion ($1.8bn) from KES86.8 billion and market capitalization was up 50% to KES 1.9 trillion ($22.6bn). The AGM resolved to pay a first dividend of KES 2 per share.
According to another press release, Chief Executive Peter Mwangi said: “Our strong financial performance in 2013 was a result of the very strong market performance and the efforts of management to diversify revenue streams from the traditional sources of transaction levy and annual listing”.

Demutualization – the resolutions
Demutualization is the process through which an exchange stops being a mutual company, often a company limited by guarantee, with the stockbrokers and other stakeholders as members. Instead it turns into a for-profit limited company with shareholders. This can help with management and with capital raising to invest in new technology. The first demutualization was Stockholm Stock Exchange in 1993 and since then most top world exchanges have followed. Some observers ask if for-profit exchanges really work in issuers’ and investors’ interest.
Special resolutions passed at the Nairobi SE AGM were:
1. Subject to approval by the CMA, the share capital is increased from KES 25m (25m x ordinary shares of KES 1 each) to KES 850m by creating 825m new shares which rank pari passu
2. After this, the new 850m shares should be consolidated into 212.5m ordinary shares of KES 4 each.
3. Subject to approval by Registrar of Companies and CMA, the company shall be turned from a private into a public company and new articles of association be adopted, signed and registered.
4. Subject to approval where applicable, part of the credit on the company’s revenue reserve be capitalized value KES 490m to pay in full and at par for 122.5m ordinary shares of KES 4 each. These would be issued as fully paid among the registered shareholders of the company
5. Up to 2.5m ordinary shares of KES 4 each would be offered for subscription to employees of the company.
6. Subject to approval by relevant authorities, up to 212.5m ordinary shares be approved for listing on MIMS. Up to 81.375m ordinary shares should be offered for subscription by the public, and the company will issue a prospectus.

The Africa Report food for thought on the “great game” in East Africa

“East Africa is the most promising regional bloc. [It] has registered between 5 and 6% growth annually for the past decade. We estimate that regional gross domestic product will expand 18-fold by the middle of the century, from $185bn in 2010 to $3.5trn by 2050. This era is comparable to the period immediately after independence.” This is an intriguing article just published by The Africa Report, quoting Gabriel Negatu, regional director of the African Development Bank.
The article, by Parselelo Kantai in Nairobi and Juba, additional reporting by Patrick Smith in Addis Ababa, talks of the four leaders that dominate the East African “chessboard”. Here are a few sample quotes: “At international gatherings such as the African Union summit in Addis Ababa, the four gravitate towards each other: Ethiopia’s Hailemariam Desalegn, Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta, Rwanda’s Paul Kagame and Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni.
“Differing in age and political experience, they argue about many details but there is a critical point of consensus. If East Africa is to grasp the economic opportunities now available, there must be a determined effort to integrate its markets and economies, even if that means making concessions and compromises in the short term.
“All four run interventionist foreign policies – Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda sent troops into Somalia, while Rwandan and Ugandan troops have been both invited to and expelled from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“They all favour a statist hand on the economic tiller, but they are all building up business classes on whose political loyalty they can rely. All have supported Kenyatta in his attempts to avoid prosecution at the International Criminal Court.
“Economic growth and breaking away from dependence on Western markets are common imperatives. None of them enthuse about democracy, particularly in its Western, liberal variants.”
The article also gives insights on Uganda’s $8bn oil infrastructure deal of 5 February that will help reshape the region and its economies and 2 giant railway projects due for completion by 2020. It highlights the need for jobs and services to keep up with growth, and China’s giant role in reshaping the region.
It highlights regional diplomatic tensions too. The writers also point to joint pressure on Tanzania, sometimes seen as the laggard in the regionalization project, and give insightful perspective on the lessons from the South Sudan crisis, as well as letting key South Sudanese voices be heard. They write:
“For governments tempted to ignore the new underclass, South Sudan serves as a cautionary tale. An abiding weakness of governments in East Africa is their ethnocentrism: their tendency to favour crassly their ethnic support bases in the allocation of public sector jobs, appointments, commercial opportunities and government tenders.
“South Sudan’s crisis may have been exacerbated by its weak institutions, but the best illustration of this was the government’s failure to rein in cronyism, corruption and ethnic rivalries in the state sector.
“In South Sudan, these weaknesses caused a war. In other countries in the region, they produce bad elections and policy-making, and hold back burgeoning economies.”
The article speaks of the determination not to be proxies for foreign powers in any conflict and says the South Sudan crisis could give an opportunity to rebuild a state more suited to local realities.
For more, we recommend that you read the article in full here.

Nairobi Securities Exchange invites Ethiopian firms to list

Kenya has invited Ethiopian companies to list on the Nairobi Securities Exchange in a ground-breaking move that would let them raise capital and trade their shares. The Ethiopian Government has been slow to support development of its capital market, hampering investment and private-sector growth.

Churchill Avenue, Addis Abeba (www.tourismethiopia.gov.et)

Churchill Avenue, Addis Abeba (www.tourismethiopia.gov.et)


The invitation came earlier this month as Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta visited Addis Ababa to strengthen trade and other ties. According to Reuters he told a joint meeting of executives from both nations: “Kenya stands ready to begin consultations for the regulations and guidelines that would allow Ethiopian companies to raise investment capital and trade at our Nairobi Securities Exchange.”
Ethiopia has one of Africa’s biggest economies, a fast-growing population of 85-90 million, and a booming economy which is forecast to grow at over 7% a year for each of the next five years, according to the International Monetary Fund (World Economic Outlook, Oct 2013).
Foreign multinational companies such as Unilever, Danish pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk and many Chinese and Indian companies are opening a wide range of operations, including manufacturing. However, many Ethiopian companies have found it hard to raise the risk capital to seize the many opportunities, despite a strong human skills base, as outlined in this perceptive article in Financial Times.
The Government is 100% owner of the largest companies such as Ethio Telecom and Ethiopian Airlines and endowment companies linked to the key political parties are also major forces in the economy. There has been a programme of privatizing many state-owned companies in farming, manufacturing and others but Government retains key strategic industries and Reuters says they are resisting calls to liberalize the economy.
Kenyatta took Kenyan companies to look for opportunities in Ethiopia including executives of dairy company Brookside, Equity Bank and telecoms operator Safaricom. The 2 countries signed a special status agreement in 2012, detailing various areas of co-operation in trade, energy and infrastructure. A large transport corridor could link Ethiopia and South Sudan to a new Lamu port in Kenya. Ethiopia recently opened a grid to export electricity to Kenya with $1.5bn financing from the World Bank and the African Development Bank.
Analysts said Ethiopia would benefit if its firms take up the offer to tap Kenyan capital and Reuters quoted a analyst from Nairobi-based Standard Investment Bank in a note to clients: “The advantage for Ethiopia for this arrangement would be the ability to provide companies with an inflow of capital without necessarily running the risks of an open capital account economy which Kenya is already accustomed to.”
The Nairobi bourse is the powerhouse of Eastern Africa and there are already many dual-listings in the region and plans to create further links and harmonization with Dar Es Salaam, Uganda and Rwanda securities exchanges.
One Ethiopian lawyer told African Capital Markets News: “There is no law that prohibits Ethiopian companies to trade on another stock market. The President of Kenya has made his intention clear on the subject and there is no clear rejection or acceptance from its Ethiopian counterparty. The Ethiopian companies could benefit much. Principally they will be able to implement corporate governance policies and procedures that are lacking today and also be competitive over the world market.”
According to Million Kibret, managing partner of BDO Consulting Ethiopia, confirmed to African Capital Markets News that lawyers agreed “there is no law or directive or regulation that forbids interested Ethiopian companies to register at the Nairobi Securities Market. If their enrollment requires investment it will be up to the National Bank of Ethiopia to allow same.”
Kenyatta said that Kenya exported goods worth $53.2m to Ethiopia in 2012 and imported goods worth $4.1m in the same year.

Nigeria’s Abuja Commodity Exchange set for privatization

The Nigerian Government is planning to privatize the Abuja Securities and Commodities Exchange (www.abujacomex.com) by mid-2014, according to Arunma Oteh, Director General of Nigeria’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). According to an interview on Bloomberg, the aim is to revive trading.
Oteh said: “The Government wants to privatize the only commodity exchange and it had committed to doing it by the end of last year. It didn’t meet that deadline, but it’s planning to do something by the middle of 2014.
“We have a number of both domestic players and international players who are very interested. They’d rather acquire the privatized exchange, so they’re trying to see how far the government is going with this initiative and if not they’re prepared to seek a registration for a new commodity exchange.”
One of the key investors interested is local firm Heirs Holdings Ltd, based in Lagos but with interests across Africa in banking, energy, real estate and agriculture. Chairman Tony Elumelu said in an interview in December the company wants to acquire the Abuja exchange when it is sold or else it will apply to the SEC to set one up.
Heirs Holdings is an investor with Berggruen Holdings and 50 Ventures in African Exchange Holdings Ltd (AFEX www.africaexchange.com). This facilitates an exchange using NASDAQ OMX technology which can be accessed anywhere in the world through the X-Stream electronic trading platform. Other key figures in AFEX include managing partner Jendayi Frazer, who was key in U.S.-Africa policy for nearly 10 years and U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs (2005-2009) and Nicholas Berggruen whose charitable trust funds the investment arm to take “a long-term, patient capital value-oriented approach”.
AFEX has set up the East African Exchange (EAX www.ea-africaexchange.com) in Kigali, with the first node launched in Jan 2013 and the first regional auction – 50 metric tons of maize at $398 per metric ton – between a Ugandan seller and Rwandan buyer in November 2013. Expansion is planned for Kenya and Uganda to build a regional exchange.
AFEX also set up an electronic warehouse receipt system in Nigeria last November, working with the Nigerian Grain Reserve Agency and the Agriculture Ministry. This links farmers and traders as part of the groundwork to set up a commodities exchange, according to Bloomberg.
According to AFEX website: “Warehouse storage is critical complementary infrastructure to any commodity exchange. Properly managed warehouse facilities allow farmers to safely store their harvest without worrying about loss of value until market prices are favorable. An electronic warehouse receipt (e-WR) is issued by the warehouse and represents the stored commodity and is the security instrument that is traded on the exchange. It is only transferable through the electronic system, avoiding issues such as side selling, theft, forgery, etc.
“Berggruen Holdings signed a Memorandum of Understanding establishing a strategic partnership with the East African Community (EAC) Secretariat to support the goals of regional economic and financial integration. With this strategic partnership, AFEX will seek to share its strengths, expertise, experience, technologies, methodologies, and resources in order to advance the goal of regional integration of capital markets.”
“Our vision is to create lasting institutions that will capitalize on Africa’s agricultural potential, support African farmers, achieve food security, provide energy security, and improve Africa’s overall global trade competitiveness.”
Nigeria has a fast-growing population which is already 170 million people. It produced Africa’s third-biggest cocoa harvest in 2013 and produces cotton, sugar and other crops.
The ASCE website says it was originally set up as a stock exchange in 1998 and started electronic trading in 2001 and was converted into a commodity exchange 3 months later and brought under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Commerce. The website does not appear to have been updated recently.

More weather index insurance for African smallholder farmers

Weather insurance is a financial product aiming to help African farmers manage the volatility of drought and other weather crises. This week (14 Jan), IFC (www.ifc.org) signed 2 grant agreements with MicroEnsure Ltd to make more index-based weather insurance available to small-scale farmers in Rwanda and Zambia. Index-based insurance pays out on the basis of agreed weather data, such as rainfall as measured being lower than an agreed level, and is more efficient risk management tool than traditional indemnity-based agricultural insurance, which runs up high transaction costs and premiums.

The grants, valued together at about $650,000, aim to help mitigate the adverse effects of climate change and to strengthen food security. The funds come from the Global Index Insurance Facility (GIIF), which is a multi-donor trust fund implemented by IFC and the World Bank and funded by the European Union, Netherlands and Japan.

The GIIF grants are expected to help MicroEnsure to offer index-based insurance to an extra 90,000 small-scale farmers in Rwanda within 2 years and 15,000 small-scale farmers in Zambia within one year. Index-based insurance, which pays out benefits on the basis of weather data without costly field verification of losses, is a more efficient risk management tool.

Much of the farmland in Rwanda and Zambia, as in many other parts of Africa, is irrigated only by rain, and certain regions are vulnerable to drought from too little rain and floods and destruction from too much rain. To limit their losses due to extreme weather, smallholder farmers make minimal investments into their land, leading to reduced yields and continued food insecurity.

UK-based MicroEnsure has been operating since 2002 and works with mobile-network operators, banks, microfinance institutions, and other aggregators to provide insurance for the mass market. Shareholders include some of its managers and IFC, Omidyar Network and Opportunity International, which created MicroEnsure in 2005. It has a regional base in Nairobi and country operations across Africa and Asia. It has twice been awarded the Financial Times/IFC Sustainable Finance Award. The company has worked with local insurance companies in India, Malawi, the Philippines, Rwanda and Tanzania.

In Rwanda 90% of the labour force work in agriculture and in 2010 IFC agreed with MicroEnsure to design and provide index-based insurance and develop an outreach network to small farmers, while scaling up the insurance into a commercially viable and sustainable product. By March 2012, 6,208 maize and rice farmers were reported to be covered with weather station and satellite index products, with the aim to boost coverage to 24,000 farmers by December 2013. It works in Rwanda with Urwego Opportunity Bank which is a subsidiary of Opportunity International and local insurance companies Sonawara and Soros.

In Tanzania, MicroEnsure’s pilot project (Dec 2011-Apr 2012) worked to provide weather index insurance to 24,000 Tanzanian cotton farmers through the Tanzanian Cotton Board, supported by Gatsby Foundation, local underwriter Golden Crescent and a technical partnership agreement with reinsurer Swiss Re. It covers cover for value of inputs provided to farmers on credit.

IFC has also backed Kilimo Salama (“safe agriculture”) in Kenya to offer cover for inputs in the event of drought or excessive rainfall, in a partnership between Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture and Kenyan insurance company UAP. Also available is cover for farm-output value, estimated on the expected harvest. A Nov 2010 grant from GIIF encouraged Syngenta to develop the product further, which uses weather stations to collect rainfall data and mobile SMS technology to distribute and administer payouts. It

For more information see IFC website on Rwanda and Tanzania and on Kenya.

Richard Leftley, CEO MicroEnsure and MicroEnsure Asia, said in an emailed press release: “As a pioneer in the provision of weather-index insurance to smallholders since 2004 we have seen the impact that these products have in unlocking credit to fund inputs, resulting in a dramatic increase in yields and rural income. Our on-going relationship with the team at IFC has been central to our growth in this sector.”

Gilles Galludec, IFC GIIF programme manager, said: “There is great potential for index insurance to strengthen economic security for smallholder farmers in Rwanda and Zambia while also serving to further the development of sustainable insurance markets in both countries. A reduction in weather-related risks also stimulates investment in farming by making it viable for financial institutions and agribusinesses to extend credit to smallholder farmers for long-term investment in the land. Index-based insurance is a powerful tool in the fight against poverty.”

GIIF is a multi-donor trust fund, launched in Africa in 2009, with the aim of expanding use of index insurance as a risk-management tool in agriculture, food security and disaster-risk reduction. It supports the development and growth of local markets for indexed/catastrophic insurance in developing countries, primarily in Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, South Asia and Southeast Asia.

IFC is a member of the World Bank Group and focuses exclusively on the private sector, working with enterprises in more than 100 countries. Investments climbed to an all-time high of nearly $25 billion in the financial year 2013 www.ifc.org

The International Livestock Research Institute (www.ilri.org) is another organization backing index-based insurance, this time offering livestock cover for vulnerable pastoralists in Kenya and Ethiopia to cut climate-related risk. The product is called index-based livestock insurance and was launched in Marsabit District of Kenya in Jan 2010 with insurer UAP (it made payouts in Oct 2011 and Mar 2012) and in Ethiopia’s Borana zone in Jul 2012. For more information, see here. The product uses econometrics to measure links between livestock mortality and a Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI).

Top performances for USD investors at Africa’s stock exchanges

Malawi came out as Africa’s top-performing securities exchange for USD-based investors over 2013, with a strong 62.4% return over the year to 31 December. According to data published by the excellent website, www.investinginafrica.net, 8 out of 13 African exchanges surveyed beat the 29.6% return achieved by the key US S&P 500 equity index.
Other top performers for USD investors included West Africa’s regional securities exchange Bourse Régionale des Valeurs Mobilières (BRVM) which covers 8 countries. Ghana Stock Exchange gave 44.8% return, the Nigerian Stock Exchange was close behind with 44.6% and Kenya’s Nairobi Securities Exchange scored 43.7%.
Worst performers were the Namibian Stock Exchange (-2.6%) and the South Africa’s Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) with a return of -9.3%, both strongly affected by the decline in the exchange rate of ZAR currency against USD.
Prospects for African exchanges continue to look good with many African economies expected to continue strong growth in coming years and increasing deal interest. However, changes in quantitative easing in the US could lead to cash withdrawals from emerging and frontier markets including Africa.
Liquidity is a major challenge for many exchanges, according to the data by Ryan Hoover of InvestinginAfrica. Zambia’s Lusaka stock exchange only traded $0.7million of African equities a week, while Malawi and Uganda only achieved $0.8m each and Namibia $1m. Ghana was at $3.5m a week, just behind Abidjan-based BRVM which traded $4.6m, while Mauritius managed $5.7m a week, Botswana $6.2m and the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange $8.5m. Most liquid exchanges in the list (which does not include the Egyptian Exchange) include Nairobi averaging $37.1m a week, Nigeria at $106.8m and the JSE at $3.5 billion of equity trading a week.
Although Hoover lists the Dar es Salaam SE as trading a creditable $10.7m a week, a news report in the Tanzania Daily News say turnover jumped 5 fold to TZS252.3bn ($155.9m) in 2013, up from TZS50.9bn in 2012, which is equivalent to $3m a week. The paper quotes DSE’s CEO Moremi Marwa saying: “The DSE outstanding performance demonstrates the increased activities coupled with education campaigns geared at enhancing awareness that gradually made the market more vibrant”. However, the article notes there was a single transaction for TZS78.5bn ($48.5m) in Tanzania Breweries (TBL) in the third week of December 2013 as 48 deals between the International Finance Corporation and local investors which boosted local ownership and may have influenced the figures.

For the full table, check www.investinginafrica.net here:

Citadel Capital’s Rift Valley Railway opens Uganda-S Sudan trade after 20 years

Rift Valley Railways (RVR) has repaired 500 kilometers of track between Tororo in eastern Uganda and Gulu in the north. This opens north and northwest Uganda to rail services after 20 years of disuse and inefficiency and provides businesses targeting South Sudan and eastern Democratic Republic of Congo with cheaper transport, including for bulk items.
RVR is a “platform company” for Citadel Capital (citadelcapital.com, CCAP.CA on the Egyptian Exchange), which controls investments worth $9.5 billion and is a leading investment company in Africa and Middle East focusing on energy, transport, agrifoods, mining, and cement and able to tackle large and long-term projects. It operates freight rail services in Kenya and Uganda on an exclusive basis with a mandate to operate railway services on 2,352 km of track linking the port of Mombasa with the interiors of Kenya and Uganda, including Kampala.
Uganda’s President, HE Yoweri Museveni, attended the relaunch of the Tororo-Gulu-Packwach link with Citadel Capital Chairman and Founder Ahmed Heikal, TransCentury Director/Chairman RVR Ngugi Kiuna and BOMI Holdings Chairman Charles Mbire, as well as local government officials and key executives from Citadel Capital and RVR.
According to the press release Dr Heikal said: “Rift Valley Railways is the investment that first brought Citadel Capital to East Africa, a region many of us at the firm now view as our second home on this great continent that we share. Intra-regional trade currently accounts for just 9% of Africa’s total commerce, and we believe this new line is an important milestone that will further complement ongoing Ugandan Government initiatives aimed at facilitating trade on the continent.
“RVR is an excellent example of what can be achieved in Uganda and the continent in the future. It is truly a global financing effort — with shareholders like Bomi in Uganda, our partners Transcentury in Kenya, and Citadel Capital from Egypt.” According to the press release, he said that funding comes from OPIC (US Government arm which finances private sector), sovereign and quasi-sovereign wealth funds from the UAE and Norway, the International Finance Corporation, and the German, French and Dutch governments. RVR’s lenders also include the African Development Bank (AfDB), the International Finance Corporation (IFC), KfW Entwicklungsbank (The German Development Bank, KfW), FMO (the Dutch development bank), Kenya’s Equity Bank, the ICF Debt Pool, and the Belgian Investment Company for Developing Countries (BIO). Africa Railways, Citadel Capital’s platform for investment in the African rail transport sector, counts among its equity investors the IFC African, Latin American and Caribbean Fund LP (ALAC, the private equity fund managed by the IFC Asset Management Company LLC); FMO; German development finance institution DEG; FISEA, a vehicle dedicated to investment in Sub-Saharan Africa owned by France’s Agence Française de Développement and managed by its subsidiary PROPARCO; and the International Finance Corporation. Technical partners are global experts from America Latina Logistica in Brazil.
RVR Group Chief Executive Officer, Darlan de David said that RVR will expand in Gulu and eventually transform the town into a logistical hub for its operations in northern Uganda and the surrounding regions.
Citadel Capital Managing Director Karim Sadek noted: “This new service will play a vital role in promoting regional integration and trade by providing access to areas that were once closed to rail transportation. Working with logistics partners and our own logistics subsidiary, East Africa Rail and Handling, we will provide end-to-end transport and delivery solutions for customers in this important part of East Africa.”
The financing of RVR was previously covered on this blog in 2011.

Sub-Saharan African sovereigns outside SA to raise $7bn in fixed income

African countries (apart from South Africa) are set to place $7 billion of debt this year, buoyed by low interest rates and a huge global appetite. According to this article in Bloomberg Businessweek by Roben Farzad, this year’s debt issues will be more than the previous 5 years combined and African capital markets are feeling the boom.
No wonder international investors who are “grabbing for yield and growth” (according to Farzad) are looking to Africa which the International Monetary Fund forecasts will grow at 5.6% this year against 1.2% in developed countries. But Africa’s terrible infrastructure, including electricity, bridges, roads and wastewater treatment, is costing African sat least 2 percentage points of growth. Some of the new bond proceeds are likely to go on infrastructure, which needs investments of up to $93 billion a year.
The article cites research from JP Morgan Chase that average yields on African debt fell 88 basis points in the past 12 months, to 4.35%. “Nigeria, Gabon, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Namibia, the Congo, Senegal, and the Seychelles have all seen their borrowing costs fall this year.”
“It’s a hugely exciting story,” Jim O’Neill, the chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management who plans to retire this year, said in an April 23 interview with Bloomberg Television in London, writes Bloomberg reporter Chris Kay: “The only thing one has to be a little bit careful of are many of those markets are still very undeveloped and suddenly there’s a lot of people around the world regarding Africa to be sort of fashionable and trendy.”
Farzad wonders how easy it will be to “service so much easy-money debt when the credit cycle turns, or if commodities and political stability decline. At least for now, though, you get the impression that sub-Saharan Africa has turned a corner in global capital markets.” And journalist Chris Kay quotes Charles Robertson, global chief economist at Renaissance Capital: “For governments, great, don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. I still don’t believe investors are getting risk-adjusted returns in the dollar-bond space.”
According to Kay, debt-forgiveness programmes have helped 45 African nations cut debt to about 42% of gross domestic product this year from an average 120% in 2000, according to data compiled by Bloomberg and IMF estimates. South Africa’s Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan says debt will peak at 40% of GDP in 2016, compared with more than 100% for the U.S. and an average 93% in the eurozone.
Another reason why Africa offers lower risk is that taxpayers have no expectations of massive social and other spending in nearly all countries. Meanwhile global appetites are shown by the $20 trillion reportedly invested in debt at less than 1% yield.

Some potential issues
Nigeria planning to offer $1bn in Eurobonds and a $500m Diaspora bond, according to Minister of State for Finance Yerima Ngama. It was recently included in JP Morgan and Barclays local bond indices. Yields on the existing $500m Eurobond, due 2021, were down to 4.05% by 3 May, from a peak of 7.30% in October 2011.
Kenya really boosted investor confidence in Africa with its peaceful outcome after elections on 4 March and the Finance Minister Robinson Githae said on 11 March they could be in line to issue up to $1bn by September.
Ghana fuelled by an oil boom, has seen its debt yields on the 10-year bonds down 3.43 percentage points to 4.82% since their issue in October 2007, said Bloomberg.
Zambia successfully raised $750m last year at 5.625% and is thinking to return for another $1bn. Yields were up 20 basis points to 5.66% by 3 May.
Tanzania has asked Citigroup to help it get a credit rating before issuing a maiden Eurobond of at least $500m. Finance Minister William Mgimwa said a total of $2.5bn was bid for a private offering of $600m of Government debt in March. According to this story on Reuters that bond’s pricing and structure at the time had shocked markets and appeared to benefit investors: “The cheaply priced US$600m seven-year private placement was described as a “disaster” by one banker. And certainly the immediate secondary market performance looked terrible. The bonds jumped 2.75 points on their first day of trading.. That works out at a cost to the government of US$4m a year in coupon payments, assuming that the bonds could have priced at the tighter level.”
Angola did a private sale of $1bn in debt in 2012 and will go for $2 billion this year, according to Andrey Kostin Chairman of VTB Bank OJSC, who helped arrange the first issuance, last October.
Mozambique and Uganda may also issue foreign currency bonds of $500m each, according to Moody’s last October.
Gabon’s $1bn of dollar bonds are down 4.78 percentage points to 3.13% since they were issued in December 2007.