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Africa: Sovereigns look abroad

G8 debt relief package will not constrain issuance plans.

Just one year after a total of $50 billion in debt relief was granted to many African countries as part of the G8 summit at Gleneagles in Scotland, several African sovereigns are actively considering accessing the international debt markets.

Some deals might even be done before the end of this year. “I know two or three sovereigns that are actively considering coming to the market,” Francis Beddington, head of research, central and eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa, at Standard Bank, told analysts and investors at the annual Emta summer forum held in London. Others, he said, were looking at a six-month to 12-month timescale.

Although the debt relief package that many countries have received means that it is theoretically difficult for them to access the international debt markets in the near future, analysts argue that once the process is concluded, there is little to prevent them from returning to market. “Once the debt is written off, the conditionality becomes less important,” Beddington said.

Such countries as Botswana, Egypt, Ghana, Tanzania and Zambia are best placed to consider tapping the international debt markets, analysts say. Some, however, such as Botswana, have been focusing on developing their domestic yield curves, and so might not be in an immediate rush to issue internationally.

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