Sub-Saharan Africa Debt Markets – A Primer

The overall size of the debt capital markets in sub-Saharan Africa (“SSA”) across government debt and corporate bonds is about $300 billion. While the corporate bond market is nascent – less than 25% of the current total debt market, with the vast majority of that corporate debt in South Africa – there is a long history of government debt (both locally-denominated and dollar/euro-denominated) across the region that accounts for about 75% of the total outstanding amount. South Africa represents the deepest and most liquid market, accounting for about 65% of total government debt issuances. However, markets across the rest of sub-Saharan Africa are gaining increasing interest from investors and depth. In September 2012, Zambia issued $750 million of foreign bonds that were more than 15 times oversubscribed.

The debt capital markets in sub-Saharan Africa represent a significant focus for governments and non-governmental entities alike, as well as the investment community. The development of the debt capital markets is of significant interest to such stakeholders, particularly given the relatively low levels of bank debt available to private corporations. The IMF estimates that domestic credit to the private sector ranges from 15-30% for key countries in SSA, compared to well over 100% of GDP in more developed markets.

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