Africa

Ghana on Monday suspended payments on most of its external debt, effectively defaulting as the country struggles to plug its cavernous balance of payments deficit, Reuters reported. Its finance ministry said it will not service debts including its Eurobonds, commercial loans and most bilateral loans, calling the decision an "interim emergency measure", while some bondholders criticised a lack of clarity in the decision. The government "stands ready to engage in discussions with all of its external creditors to make Ghana's debt sustainable", the finance ministry said.
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Experts on Wednesday raised concerns over a new policy announced by the Central Bank of Nigeria that heavily limits withdrawals of money in a push for a cashless economy, the Associated Press reported. The monetary policy, which applies to ATMs, banks and cash back from purchases, follows the launch of the West African nation’s newly designed currency notes to control the money supply. The central bank limited weekly over-the-counter cash withdrawals to 100,000 naira ($225) for individuals and 500,000 naira ($1,124) for corporations, with a processing fee required to access more.
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Ghana will launch a domestic debt exchange on Monday, its Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta said, expressing confidence that the move would help restore macroeconomic stability and end the West African country's worst economic crisis in a generation, Reuters reported. Ofori-Atta said in a video address on Sunday that Ghana's government had finished its debt sustainability analysis, but he did not provide any information on plans for foreign debt that are anxiously awaited by international creditors.
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South Africa's unreliable power supply and its high level of government debt are two of the main risks to its financial stability, the country's central bank said on Tuesday, Reuters reported. Africa's most developed economy has seen 170 days of rolling blackouts this year due to a maintenance backlog of state utility Eskom's ageing coal-fired power plants. This has not only hit corporate productivity but also hurt investor sentiment, the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) said in its biannual health check of the financial system.
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Ghana will ask holders of its international bonds to accept losses of as much as 30% on the principal and forgo some interest payments as it hammers out a debt-sustainability plan to qualify for a loan from the International Monetary Fund, Bloomberg News reported. The West African country will also ask holders of domestic bonds to forfeit some interest payments, Deputy Minister of Finance John Kumah told Accra-based Joy FM radio. He confirmed the planned restructuring in an interview with Bloomberg. “These are proposals,” Kumah said by phone on Thursday.
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Nigeria's central bank raised its main lending rate for the fourth straight time to 16.50% from 15.50% on Tuesday as policymakers seek to rein in inflation slowing economic growth ahead of elections next year, Reuters reported. Inflation and the state of Africa's biggest economy will be major issues when voters choose a successor to President Muhammadu Buhari, who will step down after the February polls. Nigeria continues to face inflationary headwinds, which analysts expect will be worsened by the impact of floods on food prices and from a weakening exchange rate.
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S&P Global Ratings expects South Africa’s government to fulfill its commitments to investors in Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. as it finalizes a plan to tackle the state-owned utility’s massive debt burden, Bloomberg News reported. Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana said last month the government may shift between one-third and two-thirds of the power company’s debt of about 400 billion rand ($23.2 billion) onto its own balance sheet and attach strict conditions to the relief. Details, including the quantum and terms, of the transfer are expected to be announced in February’s budget.
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South African cinema group Ster-Kinekor has exited a local form of bankruptcy protection called "business rescue" after nearly two years, its administrator said on Friday, Reuters reported. Ster-Kinekor was placed under administration in January 2021, citing losses and financial distress due to COVID-19 and related restrictions forcing closures and prohibiting large gatherings in public spaces. Meanwhile studios either postponed blockbusters or released them directly on home streaming platforms, denting box office earnings.

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A group of Ghana’s foreign bondholders has hired advisers ahead of prospective debt talks with the government over a bailout the country hopes to get from the International Monetary Fund, according to people familiar with the matter, WSJ Pro reported. Holders of some of Ghana’s $14 billion in foreign-currency bonds have hired Rothschild & Co. as a financial adviser and Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP as legal counsel.

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