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Asia Poised to Play Integral Role in Africa’s Future Growth

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Weaker global outlook and the impact of Brexit have created uncertainty around growth prospects. The impact weighs heavy on world economic outlook with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicting advanced economies will grow by only 0.2% from 1.9% to 2.1% and hold steady in 2017. Against this backdrop of lethargic economic performance, some developing economies still show strong growth potential.

Sub-Saharan Africa is expected to post growth of 4.1% in 2017 and 5.2% in 2018, demonstrating resilience in the face of the global economic slowdown and subdued commodity prices. Africa’s structural growth drivers which include its attractive demographics, urbanisation and rise in consumerism remain intact. The rising middle-class with increasing purchasing capacity and growing consumption are attracting investors’ attention in markets like South Africa, Nigeria, and Kenya. The growth of FinTech firms and online lenders in the region is also helping to support the middle-class segment by enabling better access to credit. The power sector is another example of attractive opportunity in the continent – Africa has about 13% of the world’s population, but half of this population does not have access to electricity. In comparison, over 80% of the Indian population has access to electricity.

African economies which are currently performing well include Côte d’Ivoire, Tanzania, Kenya, Senegal and Ethiopia. Senegal, for example, is outperforming with a growth rate of c.6.5%, the highest it has achieved in over a decade. These economies have in many ways benefitted from lower energy and commodity prices while on the other hand, the larger economies of South Africa, Nigeria and Angola have been severely impacted by the slump in commodity prices. Their medium term prospects however remain good.

Given this mixed picture, how will Africa continue to achieve its maximum growth potential?
The West and Western multilaterals have historically played a significant role in Africa’s growth with the EU being its biggest trading partner. But the relationship between Asia and Africa has grown exponentially over the last decade. China has materially invested into Africa. Japan too has shown its interest in ramping up African investments and will be hosting the Tokyo International Conference on African Development for the first time in the African continent, focusing on ways to improve Africa’s health system. Opportunities for other Asian countries to participate in and support Africa’s growth will continue to evolve.

In the wake of European growth uncertainties following the Brexit decision, this trade partnership diversification and closer ties with Asia, could prove to be prudent in the long-term and Africa is likely to look increasingly to the East for investment and expertise. China’s One Belt, One Road initiative is designed to promote the connectivity of the Asian, European and African continents and their seas to enhance trade linkage.

While the long-term investment potential of Africa looks promising, the near-term landscape for Africa-Asia trade presents many challenges. Africa’s diverse markets remain poorly understood: there are 2,000 dialects and 54 countries all with different consumer needs to consider. Africa-Asia trade patterns also reveal the trade imbalance where investment flow is in one direction – from Asia to Africa. In order to achieve sustainable economic benefits there is a need for strategic commitment and key partnerships. There must be new determination to turn around the varying levels of conditions ranging from infrastructure to red-tape challenges that persist for growth to be sustainable.Investing in Africa presents diverse challenges and requires strategic commitment and local insight to ensure success.

– Kaushal is Regional CEO, Africa & Middle East, Standard Chartered Bank

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

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FG Bonds’ Investors to Reap N160bn Interest Payment in 2 Weeks

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Investors to Get N160bn Interest Payment in 2 Weeks

Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) bonds’ investors are expected to reap N160 billion as interest (coupon) payment in two consecutive weeks even as the Debt Management Office (DMO) auctions N145 billion worth of bonds on behalf of the federal government.

Checks revealed that FGN bond investors last week received N142 billion as coupon payment from the federal the government investment instrument and will this week receive another N18.2 billion, hence coupon payment of N160.2 billion in two weeks. Further analysis showed that the N160.2 billion represents 68 percent of the N234 billion investors received as coupon payment in the second quarter (Q2’2020), and 33 percent of the N488.9 billion received in the first quarter (Q1’2020) according to the DMO.

Data from the debt agency showed that investors in FGN bonds received N723 billion as coupon payment in the first half of the year (H1’2020).

The DMO also showed that FGN bond coupon payment constituted 78.5 percent of the N921.9 billion spent by the FG on domestic debt service in H1’2020.

Meanwhile the DMO will this week offer N145 billion worth of FGN bonds to investors during its September monthly auction to be conducted on Wednesday. According to the agency, the bond auction comprises N25 billion worth of 10 years bonds, N40 billion of 15-year bonds, N40 billion worth of 25-year bonds and N40 billion worth of 30 years bonds.

At the last auction conducted in August, the DMO sold N116.65 billion worth of bonds. This was in spite of the N242.23 billion worth of bonds demanded by investors, representing 86 percent oversubscription when compared to the N130 billion worth of bonds auctioned by the DMO.

Also in a bid to further lower FG’s borrowing cost, the DMO slightly reduced the stop rate on the 15-year, 25-year and 30-year bonds by 15 basis points (bpts), five bpts and five bpts respectively to 9.35 percent, 9.75 percent and 9.9 percent in August from 9.5 percent, 9.8 percent and 9.95 percent in July, while the stop rate on the 10-year bond was raised by seven bpts to 6.7 percent from six percent in July.

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Check Your Financial Plans Are You ‘Negative Interest Rate Ready’: deVere CEO

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Negative Interest Rate is Coming, Review Your Financial Plans, Warns Green

Personal financial strategies should be reviewed to ensure they are ‘negative interest rate ready’, warns the CEO of one of the world’s largest independent financial advisory and fintech organisations.

The comments from Nigel Green, the founder and chief executive of deVere Group, come as the Bank of England voted unanimously on Thursday to leave UK interest rates at their current record lows, at 0.1% – but keep negative interest rates in its “toolbox” of possible measures.

The U.S. Federal Reserve said on Wednesday that it will likely keep its key interest rate near zero until the economy reaches full employment and inflation runs “moderately” above its 2% goal for “some time,” a pledge that is likely to keep rates ultra-low for at least five years.

Mr Green says: “Struggling to ease the economic pain of the pandemic, central banks have ushered us into an era of almost zero interest rates – with some experts saying that the U.S. Federal Reserve and the UK’s Bank of England, amongst others, could be on the brink of implementing negative interest rates as other central banks have already done across the eurozone and in Japan.

“This would have been unimaginable even a few months ago. But the shifts have been seismic this year.”

This is why he believes that more than ever “serious, joined-up financial planning strategies” are essential for those who are committed to growing and protecting their wealth.

He continues: “In an almost zero interest rate era – or perhaps a wide negative interest rate era looming – it’s not enough to think that you can rely on the strategies of before.

“For instance, so-called low-risk bonds, such as U.S. Treasuries, once the bedrock of investment portfolios are not providing the returns they once did. Indeed, yields have been at historic lows, prompting many experts to openly question their value.”

The deVere CEO goes on to add: “Cash is certainly ‘not king’ at the moment either. Cash sitting in accounts is most likely earning you almost nothing. It will definitely not be generating decent income.

“Meanwhile, investing in stocks offers its own complexities.

“Global stock markets have, in general terms, been on an impressive rally in recent months. But delve into the picture and all is not what it seems. A handful of firms in a handful of sectors are bringing up entire indexes.”

He concludes: “Personal financial strategies should be assessed to make sure they are suited to a new era of likely permanently ultra-low or even negative interest rates.”

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Despite COVID-19 Pandemic, Africa Still a Prime Investment Destination

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Africa Still a Prime Investment Destination, Says Participants at African Development Bank (AfDB) webinar for Asian Audiences

Participants at a webinar to present the African Development Bank’s African Economic Outlook Supplement to Asian audiences on Monday have endorsed the report as critical for post-COVID-19 Africa.

The supplement revises the growth projections and outlook for Africa for 2020 and 2021 and highlights the impact of COVID–19 on Africa’s socio-economic landscape. It recommends policy responses to safely reopen economies and accelerate growth recovery.

“Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, investment opportunities still abound in Africa,” said Tetsushi Sonobe, the Dean of the Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI). “Global markets are shifting to South Asia and Africa. In a sense, Africa is not very far for Asian investors who might be interested in the investment opportunities on the continent.”

Around 350 participants attended the virtual event, which was co-hosted by the Asia External Representation Office of the African Development Bank. The audience included government officials, representatives from the African diplomatic corps in Asia, development professionals, representatives of civil society, academics and think tanks, students, journalists, and the general public

Sonobe observed that Africa’s GDP growth is projected to quickly rebound in 2021 following steady growth before COVID-19.

Sonobe identified some of the potential opportunities highlighted in the African Economic Outlook Supplement: “A large market with a very talented youthful population; a three-trillion-dollar market opportunity through the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreements; greater manufacturing potential as low-cost manufacturing opportunities continue to move to Africa; improved business environment; and improving macroeconomic governance.”

Khaled Sherif, the African Development Bank’s Vice President for Regional Development, Integration and Business Delivery said despite the pandemic affecting all African economies, its magnitude will vary considerably from country to country, depending on the economic characteristics and initial conditions of the countries.

“This urges us to avoid the one-size-fits-all solution to address the effects of COVID-19 in Africa. For that, the AEO Supplement notes that the continent will need the support and expertise of all. This is an opportunity to enrich the debate on what appropriate measures are needed to support African countries to recover from the pandemic, drawing particularly from Asian experience,” Sherif said.

The webinar noted that the policy recommendations of the African Economic Outlook Supplement could be regarded as important opportunities for investments. Participants also observed that although Africa is human-resource-rich, Africa will need to work on closing its infrastructure gap – an issue the African Development Bank has made one of its top priorities.

The African Economic Outlook Supplement underlines the urgency to build the resilience of Africa’s healthcare systems and economies to improve countries’ preparedness for future shocks. This means that African countries will need to rethink their current development strategies and priorities, which have clearly shown their limitations.

“Policymakers must seize the new and real opportunities for participation in global value chains, particularly with Asia and within Africa and build the infrastructure needed to encourage large-scale teleworking, e-health, and distance learning architectures for a rapid, resilient, and sustainable recovery in a post-COVID-19 digital world,” said Chuku Chuku, Officer in Charge of the Bank’s Macroeconomic Policy, Debt Sustainability and Forecasting Division.

“The pandemic notwithstanding, Africa is open to business and we look forward to working with our Asian partners.”

Released annually since 2003, the African Economic Outlook provides compelling up-to-date evidence and analytics to inform and support African decision-makers.

 

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