Rwanda plans to return to Eurobond markets in 2015 and raise up to $1 billion for infrastructure, including an airport and power plants. As global interest rates stay low, sub-Saharan African countries have raised $6.4bn through debt issues in 2014, compared to $9.7bn in all 2013, according to Bloomberg news agency last week, citing figures from Standard Bank Group Ltd. “the continent’s biggest lender”.
Rwanda plans to upgrade the main international airport outside Kigali, to build a 150-megawatt geothermal power plant and to fund a methane-fired power project to produce up to 100 MW by extracting methane gas from under Lake Kivu.
Bloomberg reported last week that President Paul Kagame said in an interview the country felt investor demand was still strong, after its first $400 million bond in April 2013 was more than 8x oversubscribed: “We might go for double that or more, up to $1 bn.”
“People who want to see Africa develop come to Rwanda particularly because we have set up a very good environment that makes things work for us and for our partners who come invest with us.” Economic growth has averaged 7% annually over the last 5 years and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecasts growth of 7.5% in each of 2014 and 2015, according to Bloomberg.
The agency says that Rwanda’s non-concessional borrowing limit, set by the IMF, is $250m for the 2014-15 fiscal year. It quotes Samir Gadio, head of Africa strategy at Standard Chartered Plc , saying the IMF has raised the ceiling when African countries could turn to offshore markets at cheap interest rates: “But the other consideration is that external debt sustainability should not be jeopardized… Given the size of the economy, a $1bn Eurobond would represent around 13% of GDP, which is significant.”
The interview came on 5 Aug in Washington DC when US President Barack Obama highlighted $33bn in commitments to Africa, including $14bn in investments from companies such as General Electric Co. President Kagame said: “It’s a very significant step in the relationship between Africa and the U.S… If things are done right, the relationship, the partnership between the United States and Africa, has the potential to bypass that relationship between Africa and Europe. Also the relationship between Africa and China.”