Betting on West Africa

Why pay the government of Germany to hold onto your money if you can get yields upward of 5% on euro-pegged debt in West Africa? That’s the message the region’s biggest French-speaking economy, Ivory Coast, is trying to get across as it fine-tunes processes to make it easier for foreign investors to buy its local-currency debt. While foreigners are legally permitted to hold the bloc’s securities, administrative burdens have made it difficult to attract offshore interest. By contrast, foreign investors hold almost half the securities with maturities of two years or longer that were issued in 2018 by neighboring Ghana, which is not a member of the union and has a floating currency. But the situation may change soon. One offshore investor took part in Ivory Coast’s May 27 auction of one-year securities as a “test run” for broader participation in future, said Kadi Fadika-Coulibaly, chief executive officer of brokerage Hudson & Cie, which is a primary dealer for the country’s debt. Moody’s Investors Service rates Ivory Coast’s debt at Ba3, or three levels below investment grade, on par with Turkey.


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