Africa

Kenya

Debt restructuring talks inching forward

The threat of messy outcomes to Sub-Saharan Africa’s debt problems seems to have diminished recently. In Zambia, the new administration vowed to tackle debt problems and press on with restructuring talks under the G20’s Common Framework. And Ethiopia, another participant in the programme, held its first creditor meeting as a political crisis reignited debt concerns. Even so, debt restructuring negotiations will not be smooth sailing, especially following recent revelations that Zambia’s debt owed to China may be substantially larger than officially reported. And elsewhere, debt problems may come back to bite down the line. While immediate risks in South Africa and Ghana are low, policymakers will need to undertake large fiscal consolidation to stabilise public debt-to-GDP ratios.

30 September 2021

Pandemic not in the rear-view mirror for some time

The economic damage from the latest COVID-19 waves across Sub-Saharan Africa appears to be smaller compared to previous waves, but low vaccination rates mean that officials will have to keep containment measures in place for longer than elsewhere. This will hold back recoveries and prevent international travellers from returning quickly – a particular problem or countries like Kenya and Namibia.

1 September 2021

Rising political risks in Ethiopia, SA GDP revision’s pros?

An internal political conflict in Ethiopia is escalating with an all-out civil war no longer a remote prospect. Strains in the country’s already fragile balance sheet are growing and a messy sovereign default is a real risk. And in South Africa, this week’s GDP revisions may have lowered the government debt-to-GDP ratio, but the outlook for the public finances has not improved.

27 August 2021
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Economic damage report from latest virus waves

The evidence from the latest COVID-19 waves sweeping through Sub-Saharan Africa point to a smaller economic blow compared to previous waves. Of course, there is a considerable degree of divergence, especially between countries imposing harsh restrictions – such as Uganda and Kenya – and those with more light-touch measures, like Nigeria or Ghana. Outside of South Africa, there is little sign that daily new cases are about to peak, suggesting that curbs to tame outbreaks will remain in place and continue to dampen activity. Worryingly, low vaccination rates across the region mean that economies will suffer under on-and-off restrictions with the emergence of any new virus waves.

Lagging behind

Vaccination campaigns across Sub-Saharan Africa will continue to struggle, leaving the region vulnerable to renewed virus outbreaks. This, combined with tight fiscal policy, a slow return of tourists and falls in commodity prices means that economic recoveries will lag behind those in other parts of the world. GDP across most of the region is likely to stay well below its pre-crisis path over 2021-23.

SDR allocation a positive but won’t solve debt woes

The $650bn allocation of IMF Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) that was finally signed off by the IMF yesterday should provide welcome relief to some frontier markets such as Ghana and Kenya that still face very high foreign borrowing costs. But it won’t solve the underlying problems in EMs where debt dynamics look unsustainable, such as Tunisia and Argentina.

South Africa’s fiscal tightrope, FX reshuffling in Nigeria

"Post-unrest relief measures announced by the South African authorities will probably go some way to offset the blow to the economy. The government expects to be able to stick to its fiscal consolidation plan, but the path to do so has narrowed again. Meanwhile in Nigeria, the central bank’s move this week to shake up foreign exchange provision in the country risks hurting economic activity and exacerbating inflationary pressures."

Delta threat building

The highly contagious Delta variant of COVID-19 seems to be dominant now across much of Sub-Saharan Africa and is driving new waves in many of the large economies. South Africa appears to be over the worst of its latest outbreak, although it now has to contend with the legacy of violence and unrest earlier this month. Elsewhere, cases are rising quickly and could dampen recoveries. Extremely low vaccine coverage makes the region particularly vulnerable to this variant and potential future ones. Even in South Africa, where the rollout is quick by regional standards, at the current pace it would take a year for vaccine coverage to reach the levels offering protection against new variants seen in DMs.

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