Archive for the 'Rwanda' Category

IPO for I&M Bank Rwanda extended to 10 March


The extended deadline for the initial public offer (IPO) of I&M bank Rwanda is 10 March. The Government is selling its 19.8% stake in the bank in an offer launched on 14 Feb and originally set to close on 3 March. On offer are 99 million shares at RWF90 ($0.11) each, with a minimum purchase of 1,000 shares.
The offer could contribute nearly RWF8.9bn towards Government plans to raise RWF11.5bn ($13.9m) to build a second airport near Kigali, according to a report in KenyanWallStreet.com. As part of the offer, 5m new shares were created for an employee share offer programme (ESOP).

Prospectus delays
The Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning said it had received enthusiastic investor interest across the region. According to a statement: “This is to ensure that prospectuses and application forms reach investors across the country and the East African region in good time, and in response to requests from retail and institutional investors given the early start to the year, it has been decided to avail additional time to enable investors participate.”
New Times newspaper quotes Shehzad Noordally, the Chairman, Rwanda Association of Stockbrokers and Market Intermediaries: “There has been a slight delay in publishing prospectuses, which is an administrative issue that has been resolved. This has, therefore, resulted in the prospectuses not being distributed on time to the general public”.
I&M Bank, the Capital Market Authority, and the Rwanda Stock Exchange have approved the extension. The shares will be listed on the RSE.
The Government is committed to the development of capital markets as a means to building a strong foundation for long-term financing for both private and public sector, according to Minister for Finance and Economic Planning, Claver Gatete.
Previously Government has sold shares in 2 enterprises leading to listings – Bralirwa (Brasseries et Limonaderies du Rwanda, the largest brewer and beverages company) and Bank of Kigali. The other local listing is Crystal Telecom, subsidiary of Crystal Ventures Ltd, which represents a chance to trade the shares of MTN Rwanda. Crystal Ventures was profiled in the latest issue of The Economist magazine.
I&M Bank Rwanda was established in 1963 and was called Banque Commerciale du Rwanda Limited (BCR) before becoming the Rwanda subsidiary of I&M Bank Group Limited, headquartered in Nairobi, with operations in four countries.

Reasons for privatization

According to an earlier CMA press release, this is the Government of Rwanda’s strategy behind the listings:
“It is the GoR’s objective to encourage investment of shares of successful companies amongst the citizens of Rwanda, and to promote the development of the country’s capital markets. The GoR is pursuing a divesture program of state-owned enterprises, which kicked off in earnest in 1997 with a total of 72 institutions earmarked for privatization/divesture.
The specific objectives of GoR’s privatization /divestiture program entail:
• Reducing the shares held by Government in public companies and thus alleviating the financial burden on its resources (through the elimination of subsidies and state investments) and reducing its administrative obligations in the enterprises
• Ensuring better management and financial discipline in privatized companies
• Attracting foreign investment in Rwanda and the accompanying transfer of technology and knowhow
• Developing and promoting Rwanda’s capital markets and
• To give to the wider public the opportunity to participate in the shareholding of a well-run company”.

Rwanda to host 20th African Securities Association conference on 27-29 November

The Rwanda Stock Exchange (RSE) and the African Securities Exchanges Association (ASEA) will host the 20th Annual ASEA Conference in Kigali, Rwanda on 27-29 November. The ASEA annual conference is the flagship event for Africa’s capital markets and all those who work in them. This year’s theme is “The road to 2030: Making the African capital markets relevant to the real economy”.
Celestin Rwabukumba, RSE CEO, explained: “The conference will bring together more than 300 global and regional experts and stakeholders in capital markets, regulators, law firms and issuers, domestic, regional and international investors, rating agencies, portfolio and investment managers, government representatives, and technology providers to ask questions and address the big question of how African securities exchanges should become more effective and play a bigger role in mobilizing capital for African businesses that will drive our economies on the global economic stage.” He added it offers an opportunity for the East Africa Community (EAC) region to demonstrate how much can be achieved through integration of regional securities markets – the EAC is leading the way with an exciting capital markets integration programme as part of stronger regional economic links.
The gathering will also celebrate the RSE’s 5th birthday, it was formed in 2011. “It’s been an exciting 5 years for us. We have grown on all fronts and are increasing our numbers every year in terms of market participation, companies coming on board and technology. This will definitely be a good occasion,” Rwabukumba added.
There will also be scope for tourism and other enjoyment after the conference.

Kigali under Vision 2020 (photo: www.TopBoxDesign.com)

Kigali under Vision 2020 (photo: www.TopBoxDesign.com)

Rwanda Stock Exchange expects 3 share offers (IPOs)

Rwanda Stock Exchange

Rwanda Stock Exchange, credit New Times.

Rwanda Stock Exchange, credit New Times.


The Rwanda Stock Exchange is expecting 3 initial public offers IPOs of shares in the coming months, which will bring the total number of equities listed for trading to 10. No details were disclosed, but the East African newspaper reports the 3 are among the most profitable in their sectors. Pierre Celestin Rwabukumba, bourse CEO, told Bloomberg: “We expect three initial public offerings this year. Due to disclosure restrictions I cannot tell you which ones.”
The East African’s Kabona Esiara wrote: “They are a bank where a principal investor is liquidating interests in order to venture into other businesses and a transport company that is seeking to fund acquisition of a modern fleet. A third company involved in logistics is looking for expansion capital. The latter two are classified as small and medium enterprises (SMEs).” The IPOs are said to be at an advanced stage, with the prospectuses going through Capital Markets Authority checks before roadshows in Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda begin.”
Davis Gatharaa, managing director at Baraka Capital was reported saying: “2016 should witness increased market capitalisation, liquidity and turnover largely driven by new listings. We believe the Rwanda Stock Exchange offers a bargain hunting ground for foreign investors helped by a very strong dollar.”
IPOs on the RSE previously were Crystal Telecom (owns 20% of MTN Rwandacell) in July 2015, Bank of Kigali in 2014 and beverages firm (brewer) Bralirwa in 2011, launching the equity market. I&M Bank had issued a corporate bond in 2008. RSE statistics showed RWF34 billion ($45.5 million) in trading from January to November 2015. Market capitalization was RWF2.82 trillion ($3.75bn).
The market saw declines with the Rwanda Share Index down 21% but the All Share Index was down 3.9%. and the paper reports that analysts do not expect strong performance this year. Robert Mathu, CEO of the Capital Market Authority regulator, was reported saying: “Weak global commodity prices weakened the economic outlook for most of sub-Saharan Africa. Coupled with the currency bleeding that was experienced by most of these African countries, this led investors to adopt a wait-and-see approach on African stockmarket prices.”
When the bourse was launched the Capital Market Advisory Council said in 2011 that government planned to offer shares in 6 companies on the domestic exchange, including Commercial Bank of Rwanda, now known as I&M Bank Rwanda, and Sonarwa Insurance. The New Times newspaper reported in April 2015 the government is planning an initial public offering of its 19.8% stake in the Rwandan unit of Nairobi-based I&M Holdings Ltd.
In a report on AFKInsider Rwakumba said the bourse is targeting new retail investors: “ We are focusing a lot on the demand side with specific attention on retail investors. We are increasingly getting more and more new investors; in 2015 we had a surge of new investors of 19.2%. We are to keep building on this momentum to entice new investment so that we don’t face challenges in supply and demand sides.”

Rwanda Stock Exchange closer to Nasdaq X-stream automated trading

Rwanda Stock Exchange (RSE) says it is getting closer to introducing an Automated Trading System using trading technology from Nasdaq OMX. It will also link its trading infrastructure to the Central Securities Depository (CSD) and Real Time Gross Settlement System (RTGS) at the National Bank of Rwanda.

In March 2014, there was a report in The East African that the RSE was aiming to use the Nasdaq X-stream system installed at the East African Exchange (EAX) regional commodity market. The latest news from the East African Securities Exchanges Association EASEA press communiqué (available here) from the 24th meeting in Rwanda on 26-27 November was: “The RSE is in the final stages of automation of its trading system”.

Nasdaq describes X-stream as “a flexible, out-of-the-box solution trading multiple asset classes simultaneously on a single platform” on its website. It says X-stream is “the world’s most widely deployed matching technology” among market operators and is deployed in over 30 exchanges globally.

According to the March story in The East African: “John Rwangombwa, the governor of the National Bank of Rwanda, told Rwanda Today that though electronic trading had been delayed due to the heavy financial outlay required, RSE and EAX are now in advanced stages of sharing the NASDAQ system. .. We have been working on our side as a central bank to link the central securities depository. In the course of this year —in three or four months — automatic trading will be up and running.”

The report added: “While trade volumes on the RSE have been steadily increasing, its current manual trading platform makes it uncompetitive in particular among offshore investors.”

The RSE also reported that the bond market is becoming more “vibrant”, with quarterly issues by the Government of Rwanda. This was after work by a team made up of Capital Market Authority (CMA), Rwanda Stock Exchange (RSE), Central Bank of Rwanda and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning.

East African Exchange
The EAX was launched on 3 July 2014 by His Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya. It had been established by Tony O. Elumelu, CON, of Heirs Holdings, Nicolas Berggruen of Berggruen Holdings, Dr. Jendayi Frazer of 50 Ventures and Rwandan investment company Ngali Holdings. Acccording to a press release: “the EAX is a commodity exchange that aims to increase regional market efficiency and give the growing population, particularly smallholder farmers, better access to commercial markets.

“EAX will use NASDAQ’s OMX X-Stream trading platform for electronic trading and warehouse receipts so farmers can deposit their produce into EAX certified warehouses and access its services.

“At the formal launch, Mr. Elumelu said: ‘The EAX showcases our desire to identify far reaching investment opportunities, while ensuring that most of the value-adding aspects of Africa’s resource wealth stay on our continent. Africa must move toward greater self-sufficiency with private investment and strategic partnerships, just as we have done at EAX through our partnership with NASDAQ.’

“Nicolas Berggruen said: ‘EAX is complementing the EAC’s goal of regional economic integration, and putting in place a world-class exchange to create a globally competitive market for Africa’s commodities.’ EAX’s goal is to facilitate trade across all five East African Community member states. EAX is wholly owned by Africa Exchange Holdings, Ltd. (AFEX). EAX in Rwanda is additionally owned by local investment company Ngali Holdings.”

According to an earlier story on AFEX and its plans in Nigeria, Jendayi Frazer was key in U.S.-Africa policy for nearly 10 years and U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs (2005-2009). Nicholas Berggruen has a charitable trust which funds the investment arm to take “a long-term, patient capital value-oriented approach”.

A story written in New York Times in March 2014 described “A commodity exchange, with its dozen terminals and state-of-the-art software provided by Nasdaq, held its first six auctions over the past year — a fledgling venture, but the kind that helps explain how a nation with no oil, natural gas or other major natural resources has managed to grow at such a rapid clip in recent years.

Rwanda Stock Exchange trading boards (2013 - credit The East African/umuseke.rw).

Rwanda Stock Exchange trading boards (2013 – credit The East African/umuseke.rw).

For 2104 photos of the Rwanda Stock Exchange and the East African Exchange see the New York Times website here.

East African securities exchange integration – what’s on in 2015

Securities exchanges in East Africa are working together on the infrastructure for tighter cooperation and links between the capital markets of Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania and potentially Burundi. The body for cooperation is the East African Securities Exchanges Association (EASEA). The key integration driver is the Technical Working Group (TWG), which has a member from each State. It was established by the East African Community (EAC) to review the best infrastructure and legal framework to facilitate seamless cross-border movement of capital.

Training and qualifications
Also important is the Securities Industry Training Institute (SITI) East Africa, which is improving skills and technical capacity to international standards and creating regional qualifications to enable skilled candidates to work across the region. For 2015 SITI East Africa aims to help more market players and regulators have SITI certification and examinations and is driving training to meet the growing demand for expertise. SITI was set up in 2009 to establish a common curriculum. See this post about the launch of SITI.

Infrastructure
A regional inter-depository transfer mechanism is in place to support movement of cross-listed securities and provide possibilities for investors seeking cross-border trading and investment opportunities. It is part of a capital market infrastructure project progressing under the EAC Financial Sector Development Regional Project (FSDRP I). Each country is leading publicity and workshops to raise awareness and boost cross-border trading.

Backbone – new directives
The TWG is developing Council Directives “which will be the backbone of the proposed integration of the regional capital markets”, according to the communiqué (“EASEA Press Release”) of the last EASEA meeting. The directives under public discussion are:
1. Council Directive of the EAC on Central Securities Depository
2. Council Directive of the EAC on Securities Exchanges
3. Council Directive of the EAC on Self-Regulatory Organizations
4. Council Directive of the EAC on Conduct of Business for Market Intermediaries
5. Council Directive of the EAC on Corporate Governance for Listing Companies.

The TWG has also drafted and completed directives on
1. Council Directive of the EAC on Investor Compensation Schemes
2. Council Directive of the EAC on Financial Education and Consumer Protection
3. Council Directive of the EAC on Disaster Recovery for Capital Market Infrastructure
4. Council Directive of the EAC on Regulated Activities
5. Council Directive of the EAC on Credit-Rating Agencies
6. Council Directive of the EAC on Regulatory Authorities
7. Council Directive of the EAC on Anti-Money Laundering and Combating of Financial Terrorism

The last meeting of EASEA was 26-27 November and Tanzania did not attend. The next is due in Uganda in the Q2 of 2015. EASEA is a member of the Capital Markets Development Committee (CMDC) of the East African Community (EAC) – a committee of the East African Community Secretariat, according to the Uganda Securities Exchange website. The CMDC objectives include

  • Establish cross-listing of stocks, a rating system of listed companies and an index of trading performance to facilitate the negotiation and sale of shares within and external to the Community
  • Ensure unimpeded flow of capital within the Community by facilitating the removal of controls on the transfer of capital among the Partner States
  • Prevent money-laundering activities through the capital markets
  • Ensure that the citizens of and persons resident in a Partner State are allowed to acquire stocks, shares and other securities or to invest in enterprises in the other Partner States

Encourage cross-border trade in financial instruments.

Rwanda to fund airport and power with $1bn Eurobond in 2015

Rwanda plans to return to Eurobond markets in 2015 and raise up to $1 billion for infrastructure, including an airport and power plants. As global interest rates stay low, sub-Saharan African countries have raised $6.4bn through debt issues in 2014, compared to $9.7bn in all 2013, according to Bloomberg news agency last week, citing figures from Standard Bank Group Ltd. “the continent’s biggest lender”.
Rwanda plans to upgrade the main international airport outside Kigali, to build a 150-megawatt geothermal power plant and to fund a methane-fired power project to produce up to 100 MW by extracting methane gas from under Lake Kivu.
Bloomberg reported last week that President Paul Kagame said in an interview the country felt investor demand was still strong, after its first $400 million bond in April 2013 was more than 8x oversubscribed: “We might go for double that or more, up to $1 bn.”
“People who want to see Africa develop come to Rwanda particularly because we have set up a very good environment that makes things work for us and for our partners who come invest with us.” Economic growth has averaged 7% annually over the last 5 years and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecasts growth of 7.5% in each of 2014 and 2015, according to Bloomberg.
The agency says that Rwanda’s non-concessional borrowing limit, set by the IMF, is $250m for the 2014-15 fiscal year. It quotes Samir Gadio, head of Africa strategy at Standard Chartered Plc , saying the IMF has raised the ceiling when African countries could turn to offshore markets at cheap interest rates: “But the other consideration is that external debt sustainability should not be jeopardized… Given the size of the economy, a $1bn Eurobond would represent around 13% of GDP, which is significant.”
The interview came on 5 Aug in Washington DC when US President Barack Obama highlighted $33bn in commitments to Africa, including $14bn in investments from companies such as General Electric Co. President Kagame said: “It’s a very significant step in the relationship between Africa and the U.S… If things are done right, the relationship, the partnership between the United States and Africa, has the potential to bypass that relationship between Africa and Europe. Also the relationship between Africa and China.”

Kigali under Vision 2020 (photo: www.TopBoxDesign.com)

Kigali under Vision 2020 (photo: www.TopBoxDesign.com)

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.

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).

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.