Africa

South Africa’s largest lender to farmers has delayed a debt restructuring deal with creditors because of conditions attached to a government bailout, forcing it to repay what it owes to Standard Chartered Plc, Bloomberg News reported. Land & Agricultural Development Bank said on Wednesday that a March 31 deadline to reach an agreement won’t be met. The government’s 7 billion rand ($474 million) commitment required “a material change” to previous versions of plans to deliver on the lender’s “development and transformation objective,” it said in response to emailed questions.
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Chinese lending to African governments dropped by nearly a third in 2019 -- and probably continued to fall last year -- as a rising threat of defaults stemmed a deluge of credit from the country in the past decade, Bloomberg News reported. A study by Johns Hopkins University’s China-Africa Research Initiative showed that Chinese financing to Africa fell below $9 billion for the first time in nearly a decade in 2019, with Beijing refraining or reducing the size of loans to major borrowers such as Angola and Ethiopia.
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Former Labour Cabinet Secretary Kazungu Kambi has suffered a huge blow after a court declined to rule out a bankruptcy case facing him for failing to pay a Ksh 390 million loan, Kenyans.co.ke reported. Kambi had filed a petition asking for more time to service the loan owed to a local bank arguing that his appointment to the National Lands Commission (NLC) meant that he had a source of income and would afford to clear the debt in monthly installments. Reports indicate that Kambi's net worth is Ksh 50 million.

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Ghana’s planned Eurobond sale will be a key test of appetite for African issuers after a raft of nations sought debt relief, shaking investor confidence, Bloomberg News reported. Strong demand for the sale, which includes Africa’s first zero-coupon dollar bond, would encourage other African countries to tap international capital markets for money needed to roll over debt and finance strained budgets. That would also sidestep the need to seek debt relief and the questions that raises over market access, according to Gemcorp Capital LLP.
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The administrators of South African Airways (SAA) hope to hand control of the business back to management by the end of the month, the state-owned airline said in a letter to affected parties seen by Reuters. SAA has been under a form of bankruptcy protection since December 2019, and its fortunes worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic. All operations were mothballed in September 2020 when funds ran low. The letter, dated March 18, said SAA’s board of directors and management were working on a plan to resume flights, without giving a date when that might happen.
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Unemployment in Africa’s largest economy surged to the second highest on a global list of countries monitored by Bloomberg. The jobless rate in Nigeria rose to 33.3% in the three months through December, according to a report published by National Bureau of Statistics on its website Monday. That’s up from 27.1% in the second quarter of 2020, the last period for which the agency released labor-force statistics.
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Nigeria plans increased use of sovereign guarantees to fund infrastructure in a bid to reduce the need for raising debt for such projects, Bloomberg News reported. Africa’s largest economy will raise the value of these assurances to 5% of gross domestic product from 1.5% in 2019, Patience Oniha, head of the Debt Management Office, said at a conference in Lagos on Thursday. Nigeria’s public debt, including central bank overdrafts, as a proportion of GDP at 34.4% in 2020, is relatively low compared to peers.
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Nigeria’s state oil company ruled out higher gasoline prices this month, less than a day after the fuel regulator signaled the first increase since November, Bloomberg News reported. The reversal means that government-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corp., the nation’s sole importer of gasoline, will continue to bear the cost of subsidizing fuel in Africa’s biggest economy. It’s the second time in as many weeks that policy makers have sent out contradictory signals, after the central bank on March 4 set aside plans announced by one of its officials to bar foreigners from some debt auctions.
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Ghana will begin a roadshow next week to raise $5 billion from the international capital markets, as it seeks to close its 2021 budget financing gap, Bloomberg News reported. The nation wants to start marketing the debt to investors after Friday’s budget presentation, a Ministry of Finance official said by phone on Tuesday. The meetings would be held virtually due to coronavirus restrictions, said the official. This would be the first time Ghana will hold virtual meetings with investors prior to an international debt sale.

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