Archive for the 'Zambia' Category

IMF cuts African growth forecast

Africa’s growth is slowing dramatically, says the International Monetary Fund, and it could get worse if the global economy does not grow. The IMF says economic growth for 2015 is likely to be 3.75% and 4.25% next year, the lowest level in 6 years and down from last year’s 5% average growth.

In its October 2015 report African Economic Outlook: Dealing with the Gathering Clouds, the IMF writes: “The strong growth momentum evident in the region in recent years has dissipated. With the possibility that the external environment might turn even less favourable, risks to this outlook remain on the downside.”

There are many that are flourishing, including Cote d’Ivoire, forecast to grow at 9% this year because of an investment boom that followed the end of a brief civil war in 2012. It just had a very peaceful election and President Alassane Ouattara, a former IMF official, is widely expected to win.

In real growth terms (page 81) Ethiopia is Africa’s fastest-growing economy this year with 8.7% growth, followed by Democratic Republic of Congo (8.4%) and Cote d’Ivoire (8.2%). Ethiopia is second fastest next year with 8.1% forecast, just after Mozambique (8.2%).

The fund blames a slump in commodity prices and cheap dollars returning to the US and out of African credit markets for the lower overall growth. Hardest hit are the 8 countries that export oil from sub-Saharan Africa, where the prices are far lower. Top producers Nigeria and Angola will see revenues falling fast, while . weak minerals prices, power shortages and difficult financing conditions are slowing growth in countries such as Ghana, Zambia and South Africa. It said commodities revenues are forecast to remain depressed for several years.

According to a report by Reuters, Antoinette Sayeh, head of the IMF’s Africa department, said governments should work quickly to diversify revenue sources by improving domestic tax collection: “Mobilizing more revenues is an urgent matter – as is being more exacting in choosing expenditure. It’s a difficult patch, but we definitely think that countries can move out of the very difficult terrain and grow more robustly.”

The fund urges governments to increase productivity: “To sustain rapid growth the region will need to diversify away from commodities, increase export sophistication, and integrate into global value chains.”

Low interest rates, especially by issuing Eurobonds on international fixed income markets since 2007, has meant African governments have borrowed and public debt levels have risen. Sayeh warned governments to be “very careful” in how they managed dollar financing to ensure it is invested wisely. Some governments, such as Ghana, have been accused of frittering away Eurobond revenues on state salaries. Sayeh said Accra was doing “reasonably well” in its efforts to curb public spending under a $918 million IMF programme agreed in April.

She says that Zambia has not yet asked IMF for financial help. It is also struggling with the rising cost of servicing USD debt after the value of its currency fell 50% this year.

The Fund also notes that Sub-Saharan Africa has among the highest levels of inequality—both income and gender—in the world, even after accounting for the lower levels of per capita income in the region. There is growing international evidence that such inequality can impede macroeconomic stability and growth

Highlights from the report
In most low-income countries, growth is holding up, as ongoing infrastructure investment efforts continue and private consumption remains strong. The likes of Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Mozambique, and Tanzania are projected to register growth of 7% or more this year and next. But even within this group, some countries are feeling the pinch from lower prices for their main export commodities, even as lower oil prices ease their energy import bill. On average, activity for this group is now projected to expand by 6% in 2015, some three-quarters of a percentage point lower than foreseen a year ago.

• The region’s 8 oil-exporting countries, conversely, are being hit hard by the continued weakness in oil prices. Falling export incomes and resulting sharp fiscal adjustments are taking their toll on activity, now expected to expand by 3½% this year, down from the 7% expected before oil prices started falling. Headwinds are particularly strong in Angola and Nigeria, but also among oil exporters in the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC).

• Several middle-income countries are also facing unfavourable conditions. A combination of supply shocks (for example, curtailed electricity production in Ghana, South Africa, and Zambia), more difficult financing conditions in a context of large domestic imbalances (Ghana and Zambia), and weaker commodity prices (Botswana, South Africa, Zambia) are set to lower growth.

Moreover, there is a risk of still lower growth if the external environment continues to weaken. Existing vulnerabilities, especially on the fiscal front, could also come to a head if the external environment were to turn even less favorable, via further declines in commodity prices, stronger growth deceleration in China, or a disorderly global asset reallocation.

Debt crunch
With gross external financing needs in excess of 10% of GDP in many of the larger economies (Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania), it might at best become increasingly difficult and expensive to cover these needs, and at worst, impossible to do so, forcing an abrupt adjustment.

Where fiscal deficits are particularly large and external costs have already risen substantially, recourse to domestic markets is also becoming increasingly difficult, as in Ghana and Zambia. This has pushed domestic borrowing costs up— crowding out the private sector in the process and restraining the emergence of new, more diverse, domestic sources of growth.

inflation is now inching up in some of the largest sub-Saharan African economies, in contrast with the trend of recent years. Average inflation in the region is expected to reach 7% this year and 7¼% next year. In some countries, specific factors such as electricity tariff hikes (South Africa), the elimination of fuel subsidies (Angola), and rising food prices (Ethiopia, Tanzania) have also pushed inflation up. However, inflation in most other countries remains contained, particularly in the CFA franc zones, where it ranges from 1 to 3%.
some central banks have intervened in the market to contain exchange rate volatility, and others, most notably oil exporters, have drawn on their external buffers to smooth the adjustment to lower commodity prices (Figure 1.12). Some countries, including Angola and Nigeria, have also introduced administrative measures to stem the demand for foreign currency, significantly hampering the conduct of private sector activities in the process.

Banks could well see a worsening of the quality of their assets. Recent analysis suggests that financial stability indicators in natural-resource-rich countries, such as bank profitability or nonperforming loans, tend to deteriorate and the probability of systemic banking crises tends to increase in the wake of negative commodity price shocks

Power block
Infrastructure bottlenecks have long been an impediment to attracting new activities and fostering trade integration.8 These bottlenecks have come to the forefront even more acutely recently for a wide range of countries. Load shedding and electricity shortages, triggered by delays in upgrading aging power plants and filling the power generation gaps, have become a regular occurrence in Ghana and South Africa, with particularly acute effects in the manufacturing sector. Worsening conditions in electricity supply have also been severely hampering activity in a few other countries (Comoros, Madagascar, Nigeria, and Zambia).

These difficulties are in stark contrast with encouraging progress made elsewhere in the region, as past investment is now bearing fruit. In Kenya, the doubling of geothermal generation capacity in the second half of 2014 led to a 20% increase in overall capacity and a 25% decline of electricity cost (IMF 2015b). The coming onstream of new hydropower plants in Ethiopia is contributing to a further increase in electricity availability for the entire east African region, and will do so even more in the next few years—supporting the emergence of new activities. In west Africa, a new dam put in service in Guinea in the summer of 2015 will also allow electricity exports to neighbouring countries.

JSE launches futures trading for 3 African currencies

South Africa’s Johannesburg Stock Exchange (www.jse.co.za) has launched currency future instruments which will help investors and businesspeople looking to hedge against African currency movements. The 3 new currency futures are the first to track exchange rate between the rand (ZAR) and Nigeria’s Naira (NGN), Kenya Shilling (KES) and Zambia Kwacha (ZMW).
The move will allow investors, importers and exporters to protect themselves against the currency movement in the foreign country. The JSE has partnered with Barclays Africa and specialist brokers, Tradition Futures, to bring this new offering to market.
A press release from the JSE quotes Andrew Gillespie of Tradition Futures: “It is a groundbreaking development to have a transparent, independent, well-regulated platform to mitigate or assume FX (foreign exchange) risk in these African countries, against any other currency of their choice – that does not prejudice anyone, irrespective of size, domicile or nationality.

Representatives of JSE, Reserve Bank, Kenya and Zambia open trading in African currencies (credit: JSE)

Representatives of JSE, Reserve Bank, Kenya and Zambia open trading in African currencies (credit: JSE)


“The ability to transact anonymously, through specialist brokers such as Tradition Futures, and to have access to full and fair, timeous price discovery is an international benchmark requirement for a developed market. This allows for a level and fair playing field, where the best price is available to all, without bias or favour, which is a significant facet and feature of this market in African FX on the JSE.”

Guide to African currencies (see www.charterresource.org/african-currencies)

Guide to African currencies (see www.charterresource.org/african-currencies)


The JSE already offers futures against the ZAR in: USD (contracts of $1,000), Euro, Sterling, Australian dollar, Japan Yen, Canada dollar, New Zealand dollar, Chinese Renminbi, Swiss Franc, Botswana Pula and a couple of custom instruments. See the helpful brochure available here.

How they work
A currency futures contract is an obligation to buy or sell an underlying currency at a fixed exchange rate at a specified date in the future. For example, a futures contract can give an investor the right to buy USD at ZAR10 per USD1 at the end of December. One party to the agreement is obligated to buy (longs) the currency at a specified exchange rate and the other agrees to sell (shorts) it at the expiry date. A futures contract is therefore an agreement between two investors with different views on the way or extent a currency will move.
The underlying instrument of a currency future contract is the rate of exchange between one unit of foreign currency and the South African rand. The value of the futures contract moves up and down with this exchange rate – the level of the exchange rate determines the value of the futures contract. Currency futures contracts therefore allow participants to take a view on the movement of the exchange rate as well as to hedge against currency risk. Currency futures are used as a trading, speculating and hedging tool by all interested participants.
The new JSE futures contracts will provide the market participants with the ability to get exposure on the JSE to the exchange rate between the USD and the Zambian, Kenyan and Nigerian currencies through trading synthetic cross-currencies. For example, investors can get exposure to the exchange rate between the USD and the KES by trading both against the ZAR. To promote cross-currency trading the JSE will charge trading fees on only one of the foreign trade logs and not both.

Boosting African trade
The currency futures were launched on 3 October. The press release quotes Warren Geers, General Manager: Capital Markets at the JSE: “The JSE is very excited about this new groundbreaking initiative as we have been working on this strategy for 2 years. With Africa being a global investment destination it makes sense for the JSE as a major exchange player in Africa to be involved in providing appropriate products to mitigate currency risk and exposure when dealing in Africa.”
Trade statistics from the South African Revenue Service (SARS) show trade between South Africa and Nigeria totalled R34.4 billion, between South Africa and Zambia was nearly R18bn, and between South Africa and Kenya amounted to R4.6bn for for January-July 2014.

For more information, look at the currency futures details on the JSE website.

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:

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.

Africa’s best real estate developer is private equity group Actis

Leading African private equity group Actis has won the title for “Best Developer in Africa” in the 8th annual global Euromoney Real Estate Survey run by finance magazine Euromoney. To collect data for the award, Euromoney was canvassing the opinions of senior real-estate bankers, developers, investment managers, corporate end-users and advisory firms in over 70 countries since March. It was the biggest Euromoney real estate poll with over 1,900 responses. Actis invests mainly in retail and office developments in high-growth markets such as Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania and Zambia. It launched its first real estate fund in 2006 and concentrates on institutional quality investments. It is sub-Saharan Africa’s most experienced private equity real estate investor and developer, according to a press release.

Current Actis developments include Ghana’s first green-certified building One Airport Square in Accra; East Africa’s biggest retail centre Garden City in Nairobi, and Ikeja City Mall in Lagos which welcomed 45,000 people on its first day of trading in December 2011. Past investments include Accra Mall in Accra and The Junction in Nairobi.

According to the press release, David Morley, Head of Real Estate at Actis, said: “Sub-Saharan Africa has a population of 800 million people and is the fastest urbanising region in the world; an increasingly sophisticated consumer class seek places to live, eat, shop and relax in the face of chronic undersupply. There is tremendous opportunity for those who take up the challenge and we are very proud to see our work recognised in this way.” Euromoney Editor Clive Horwood said, “The winners of this year’s Euromoney survey are those that exhibited the ability to innovate and make best use of the inherent strengths of their organisation. In Africa, in particular, there are great opportunities for those companies best equipped to operate in challenging markets. Through the Euromoney real estate survey, the market has recognised Actis as the leader in this field.”

Nairobi’s Garden City
In July Actis confirmed its investment in Nairobi’s Garden City, a 32-acre mixed use development on the recently expanded 8-lane Thika Highway. This will be a 50,000 sqm retail mall, with commercial premises, 500 new homes and a 4-acre central park, offering family friendly leisure space for Kenyans and visitors to the city. The park will also house an outdoor events arena for the staging of concerts and shows. Groundbreaking is due in December 2012 and completion targeted for May 2014, according to a press release.

Actis is working with leading retailers, including a flagship store for South Africa’s Game, their first in Kenya. Letting is underway with specialist agents Knight Frank Kenya and Broll in South Africa. There are detailed discussions with other foreign retailers looking to enter the rapidly-expanding Kenyan market, such as South African fashion group, Foschini. There is a strong focus on environmental features and the aim is to achieve the first LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification for a retail mall in East Africa. This brings down operating costs for tenants by reducing electricity and water consumption.

Accra Mall sold
In May Actis confirmed that it had sold its 85% shareholding in Ghana’s Accra Mall to South Africa’s commercial and retail property developer Atterbury and financial services group Sanlam. Actis managed the development process, invested the equity and raised the debt to finance the project, working in partnership with renowned Ghanaian entrepreneurs, the Owusu-Akyaw family. The mall opened its doors in July 2008 fully let, and attracts 135,000 shoppers each week, according to a press release.

Accra Mall is Ghana’s first A-grade shopping and leisure centre, home to international brands such as Shoprite and Game, as well as Ghanaian brands including Kiki Clothing and Nallem. The trade sale demonstrates an increasing interest in Ghana by foreign investors and also reflects the acute demand for high quality real estate assets in sub-Saharan Africa.

Actis 100% owned
Also in May, Actis said it had bought the UK Government’s remaining 40% shareholding in the company. In the deal announced on 1 May, the government will receive a cash payment of US$13m (£8m) and will participate in future profits as Actis’s investments are realised over the next decade. To date, Actis has invested £1.7bn on behalf of the UK government’s direct finance institution CDC and has returned £3.1bn to CDC and by extension the British taxpayer.

Paul Fletcher, Senior Partner at Actis, said: “When Actis opened for business in 2004 our purpose was to attract private capital to countries that were dependent on aid and to legitimise them as investment destinations. Over the last eight years our work in Africa, Asia and Latin America, investing in over 70 companies employing 113,000 people, has shown what is possible. Successive governments have shown real vision backing a private sector model like Actis. We are pleased that HMG has realised the value of their decision to support Actis from the start. We look forward to continuing our work, investing in high quality companies in high growth countries and delivering strong returns for our investors.”

Zambia’s debut $750m Eurobond puts focus on Africa

“There is a great appetite for Africa credit and a lack of supply,” is the comment from Standard Bank group analyst Yvette Babb interviewed by Bloomberg as Zambia went to the global market yesterday (13 September) with a USD750 million 10-year bond priced at a final coupon of 5.625%. It is Zambia’s first international bond and will be used to fund its budget and invest in infrastructure.

Reuters reports that the bond has “come 25bp tighter than initial guidance after generating an order book in excess of USD11bn”. Barclays and Deutsche Bank are the leads for the bond issue, although a roadshow reportedly planned for August was delayed.

Bloomberg also quotes Sashi Kumi, a trader at Nedbank Capital “Demand looks very good. The Africa story, in general, is carrying favor with investors. People see great growth on the continent.” The story noted that yields on Ghana’s eurobonds maturing 2017 have dropped 170 basis points, or 1.7 percentage points, this year to 4.85%.

Fitch Ratings and Standard & Poor’s have both rated the bond B+. Fitch says that this matched the southern African nation’s sovereign rating, which has negative outlook. It is 4 levels below investment grade. Fitch comments: “Zambia’s ‘B+’ rating is supported by its political stability, combined with a decade of growth above 6%, buoyed by macroeconomic stability, policy reforms as well as the emergence of a vibrant copper mining sector. Added to this, the country has a track record of fiscal discipline under IMF surveillance, with gross public debt of 22% of GDP, below the ‘B’ category median. External finances are a key strength, with the IMF/World Bank Debt Sustainability Assessment putting the risk of debt distress at low. External debt ratios are below ‘B’ and ‘BB’ peer group medians.

“The prospects for growth beyond 2012 are less certain. Growth in mining production could be constrained by weaker growth in China, Zambia’s main export destination, as well as persistent capacity constraints. The revision of Zambia’s Outlook to Negative on 1st March 2012 reflected concerns about the direction of economic policy since the change of government in 2011. Concerns centred around the reversal of a privatisation deal without as yet compensating the investing parties, which could undermine property rights, while proposed reforms of the mining and banking sectors could risk unintended consequences in terms of their potential impact on investment, and consequently on the growth outlook and macro-economic stability.”

S&P also highlighted the strong growth story – Bloomberg says it will grow by 7.7% in 2012, S&P says real per capita GDP will increase by slightly more than 5%. However, it also highlights policy issues: “We estimate GDP per capita at $1,510 in 2012. In addition, the balance of payments is vulnerable to swings in copper prices (copper accounts for about 80% of exports) and the government’s economic policy direction since the October 2011 elections remains uncertain. The ratings are supported by promising investment and economic growth trends, a fairly strong external balance sheet, and moderate general government debt, which has benefited from debt relief and nominal GDP growth.

“We believe some cabinet members’ apparently uncoordinated and sometimes contradictory views have added to economic policy uncertainty. This relates in particular to windfall tax, export tracking, and the government’s participation in the mining sector. We view positively the government’s objective to promote good governance and transparency. However, its reversals of several privatizations on the grounds of a lack of transparency and flawed processes may be perceived as politically motivated.”

A report by Carol Dean of the Wall Street Journal highlights the fundamentals: “It is looking to borrow money more cheaply than Portugal and only slightly more expensive than Spain. But rather than raise money to support a collapsing economy, Zambia’s money is going to be used for real economic development and growth. That is something rare in the old developed world. The proceeds are to be invested in developing energy, railways, roads and other infrastructure projects. In stark contrast to the euro-zone’s sluggish growth at best, Zambia’s economy has grown from 6.4% to 7.7% over the 2009 to 2012 period and enjoyed falling inflation, low debt and a stable balance of payments.

“And despite the pitfalls of possible mining reforms and nationalizations, the rare opportunity to invest in a sovereign growth story plus the ever present hunt for yield, is likely to make this deal fly.”

SADC stock exchanges work together towards links, shared skills and better visibility

The 10 stock exchanges of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) are working together to increase the effectiveness of their markets. The Committee of SADC Stock Exchanges (CoSSE) has agreed to concentrate on 6 priority areas in support of regional moves to more efficient capital markets.
The stock exchanges will explore ways to use technology to link their trading and order systems and work together to ensure clearing and settlement systems align with global standards adopted in April. They are working closely with SADC institutions to support development of regional systems, including payment and will boost visibility of trading data and enhance their joint website (www.cossesadc.org), launched in April by the JSE and I-Net Bridge. The bourses will also pool resources to accelerate training and skills development for capital markets staff.
CoSSE members are Botswana Stock Exchange, Malawi Stock Exchange, Stock Exchange of Mauritius, Bolsa de Valores de Moçambique, Namibian Stock Exchange, South Africa’s JSE Ltd, Swaziland Stock Exchange, Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange of Tanzania, Zambia’s Lusaka Stock Exchange, and the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange. They met on 25 June in Gaborone, Botswana in a meeting convened by CoSSE with support from SADC Secretariat.
“Stock exchanges have their roles cut out in each of our economies to augment our governments’ efforts to grow national economies for the greater good and as part of the SADC region’s struggle for growth to escape poverty,” says Mrs Beatrice Nkanza, Chairperson of CoSSE and CEO of the Lusaka Stock Exchange. “They are the channel for long-term risk capital, which is urgently needed for the region’s businesses, infrastructure providers and even governments. They also encourage saving and investment. CoSSE members are working closely together to support SADC initiatives and to make individual markets even more effective”.
CoSSE was set up in 1997 as a collective body of the stock exchanges in the Southern African Development Community (SADC). It promotes co-operation and collaboration between member stock exchanges and is resourced by a Secretariat, supported by the JSE. SADC defines CoSSE’s role in the Finance and Investment Protocol and other policy documents and CoSSE has links to ministerial and senior treasury bodies and also works closely with the Committee of Insurance, Securities and Non-Banking Financial Authorities (CISNA) and the Committee of Central Bank Governors (CCBG).
CoSSE had set up three working committees to implement six business plans, prioritized from the initiatives identified in its Strategic Plan 2011-2016. These are:
1. Legal and Secretariat working committee – chaired by Geoff Rothschild of the JSE. This is responsible for formalizing and resourcing the Secretariat, and for continuing and improving liaison with CISNA and other SADC organs.
2. Market Development working committee – chaired by Vipin Mahabirsingh of the Stock Exchange of Mauritius. CoSSE has been developing models for inter-connectivity between automated trading systems at some or all member exchanges. The working committee will help member exchanges ensure their clearing and settlement systems comply with new global standards and support regional initiatives.
3. Capacity-Building and Visibility working committee – chaired by Anabela Chambuca Pinho of the Bolsa de Valores de Moçambique. This will liaise with member exchanges, regulators, stockbrokers, investors and others to develop and coordinate training courses. It will also enhance the new CoSSE website, help members to upgrade their own websites and to ensure their trading data and company news are disseminated internationally.
Progress will be guided by an Executive Committee, consisting of CoSSE Chairperson Mrs Nkanza, CoSSE Vice-Chairperson Gabriel Kitua (CEO of the Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange in Tanzania) and the three working committee chairpersons. The strategic plan was developed with assistance from FinMark Trust.

For more information contact
Beatrice Nkanza, CEO Lusaka Stock Exchange, tel +260 (1) 228391 or email nkanzab [at] luse.co.zm
Gabriel Kitua, CEO Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange, tel +255 22 2135779 or email gabriel.kitua [at] dse.co.tz.
Pearl Moatshe of CoSSE Secretariat, tel +27 11 5207118 or email pearlm [at] jse.co.za

BaDEx getting ready to launch as Zambia’s second securities exchange

A new securities exchange in Lusaka (Zambia) is installing tried-and-tested bond and derivative trading software and says it will be ready to launch operations next month, May 2012. BaDEx has trading platforms that include spot and derivative trading in bonds, currency, commodities (such as derivatives on metals and silo certificates on the spot market) and a variety of other derivatives including agricultural commodities, precious metals, equity and energy.

There is also a central scrip depository system (CSD) with a separate core management, risk solution, surveillance and settlement systems and platforms. The CSD will apparently link to CSDs in South Africa, Europe and the US and with the central Bank of Zambia’s real-time gross settlement system.

BaDEx, also known as Bond and Derivatives Exchange, reports that it was licensed by Zambia’s Securities and Exchange Commission on 1 January 2012 and the licence covers all securities under the Securities Act – bonds, equity, derivatives and commodities. It has signed a contract effective 12 March with South Africa’s STT (www.sttsoftware.co.za, which has also provided the JSE’s  bond trading software for many years), for STT to immediately deploy trading, clearing, settlement and surveillance systems, and systems for auctioning government securities that will be suitable for the central bank, among others.

Dominic Kabanje, CEO of BaDEx, told AfricanCapitalMarketsNews that the exchange is a public-liability company owned by “banks, pension funds and private companies including the major securities dealers in Zambia”. He says they started with 6 local stockbroking members (approach stockbrokers Madison Asset, Integral Initiatives, Intermarket Securities, Laurence Paul Investment Services, Pangaea Renaissance, African Alliance Securities for more information) but are also looking for remote members, working with a South African merchant bank.

Mr Kabanje said they are now doing primary listings. BaDEx will start secondary trading using an online, Internet-based platform when the systems go live and are also seeking to partner with an international clearing house. In a press release he said they had been excited for 18 months: “We are glad to have finally concluded and signed the contract with our software systems vendors. STT applications have been tried and tested in the South African financial markets at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE), who have used this software for the past 18 years.

“We are currently setting up a network of domestic and foreign-based settlement banks, local and remote foreign members and dealers, institutional underwriters, a clearing house as well as primary panels of domestic, regional and international investors. We plan to link up all willing domestic and regional banks, institutional investors, pension funds, treasury departments, the local central bank, the government debt management office and the local member brokers to our system by providing interfaces and online access to our platforms.

“We will also shortly join the international community of CSDs in South Africa, Europe and the United States initially to facilitate faster and smoother clearing of international securities transactions. The applications from STT and others will enable us to do this and in addition will allow us to compete internationally for bond and derivatives business”.

“I do not see any obstacles from the Zambian side for companies wishing to list. Even SA companies can list on BaDEx. We want Zambian companies to dual list on JSE and BaDEx. At BaDEx we are implementing SADC protocols on the free-trade area as well as enhancing intra-regional trade. An exchange is one such conduit for regional trade. We will, however, have to deal with the problem of exchange controls in SA.”

Michelle Janke, STT’s Managing Director, said the company was happy to reach further into SADC: “We have worked closely with the executives of BaDEx for more than a year, and the closely formed relationship will stand us in good stead over the coming months whilst we deliver all the software applications and prepare the new securities market in Zambia to go live. We hope that in due course through an ongoing cooperation between BaDEx and regional merchant banks we can assist in transforming Lusaka into a key financial hub within the SADC region. We will be there to make this happen operationally.”

Products to be traded include: corporate bonds, municipal bonds, currency futures and options, interest-rate derivatives (including swaps), equity derivatives and commodity derivatives on underlying copper, cobalt, gold, oil, wheat, soya and maize spot markets, bond derivatives market, spot bond market, spot and currency derivatives market, commodities derivatives (including metals) and the commodities spot markets (with silo certificates), agricultural derivatives market, spot equity and equity derivatives markets, precious metals derivatives market and energy derivatives market.

More appetite for African bonds in 2012

2012 could be an active year for African bonds and particularly eurobonds, judging by the 5.5 times oversubscription for the “Namibia 21”, the country’s debut $500 million, 10-year Eurobond. According to a recent story on Reuters, Florian von Hartig, head of debt capital markets at Standard Bank which was one of the lead arrangers,said it demonstrated the appetite for liquid African paper. He added that 2012 was likely to be active if the markets bear up: “I think Namibia is just another sign of how much African credits are in demand. The economy in Africa has been doing very well at times when the so-called developed world (has experienced) zero growth or even recession. Naturally, investors want to get exposure to an area where growth is steady so it ticks all the boxes.”
Zambia is among countries also considering a 10-year $500m Eurobond. Reuters quotes Stuart Culverhouse, chief economist at London-based broker Exotix as saying finding the best moment in turbulent markets will be key: “The external environment is driving a lot of considerations at the moment and therefore finding a window of opportunity in the market so the issuer can get the best possible terms will be a crucial factor.” He added that Zambia’s strong fundamentals, including increasing copper production, single-digit inflation and relatively low debt, made it an attractive issuer. “I think the underlying strengths are there to elicit investor interest, but the new government has to build on that and consolidate on that rather than reverse direction,” he said.
Kevin Daly, emerging market debt portfolio manager at Aberdeen Asset Management, which bought the Namibian Eurobond, said it depends on the terms of the issue: “There’s enough African names in the market to use as a pricing reference. When you look at current yields on Senegal 10-year bond it’s around 8.3/8.4%, so that’s a good starting point for them.”
Namibia’s Finance Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, said in an interview yesterday (15 Nov) on ABN digital; “We think that this does not only enable us to raise the funding that we need to finance our deficit, but it has enabled us also to realize the objective of providing a benchmark for future raising of funds by Namibia’s private sector, which is very important for the Namibian economy going forward.”