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Ghana, official creditors close to MoU on debt restructuring

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According to two individuals quoted by Reuters, Ghana and its official creditors have resolved the main points of a debt restructure and will shortly sign a draft memorandum of agreement, which is a crucial step needed to obtain further financing from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The document formalizes a tentative agreement to restructure $5.4 billion in debt that was made in January with government creditors, including China and France. The West African country is attempting to navigate its way out of the worst economic crisis in a generation.

Establishing an MoU will enable the IMF executive board to convene and authorize the $360 million payment under Ghana’s $3 billion rescue plan, which is anticipated to take place later this month.

One person with knowledge of the situation stated that all significant difficulties had been resolved and that the only remaining steps were to finalize some precise wording. The sources stated that the agreement was likely to be signed in a few days. An inquiry for comment was not immediately answered by a representative for Ghana’s Finance Ministry.

Amid skyrocketing servicing expenses, Ghana defaulted on the majority of its foreign debt in December 2022, following Zambia into post-COVID default. Remaining in default makes it more difficult for the government to get outside financing and escape a dire economic situation.

Ghana, like Zambia, agreed to undergo debt treatment under the G20 Common Framework, a procedure meant to speed up debt restructurings and include China, the newest major bilateral lender, in the process. Earlier this week, bondholders in Zambia approved the restructuring after the southern African copper miner missed payments due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The World Bank and other international organizations, as well as creditors, are keen to hasten Ghana’s debt restructuring and believe that the country’s nearly four-year-long, erratic struggle out of default offers valuable lessons for Ghana.

In addition to restructuring the majority of its domestic debt, Ghana must also come to an understanding with the holders of over $13 billion in foreign bonds.

Ghana’s national debt-to-GDP ratio was expected to decrease by 15% between 2023 and 2028. According to this estimate, the percentage will have decreased annually for six years, reaching 69.96% in 2028.

The majority of the country’s foreign debts were not repaid by December 2022 because the costs had risen too high. However, it now needs to negotiate a settlement with individuals who own foreign bonds worth roughly $13 billion. The majority of its domestic debt has also been modified.

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Zambia to establish unit for mineral trading, investing

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To increase its revenue from its natural resources, Zambia will establish a new company for investment and mineral trading, the cabinet announced on Wednesday following approval.

According to the statement, the government of Zambia, the second-largest copper producer in Africa, would create a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) for trading and investment purposes. Through ZCCM Investment Holdings, the government currently owns many mining assets.

The new entity would help Zambia “move away from the dividend payment model for mineral resources and adopt a production-based sharing mechanism to ensure benefits accrue to the people of Zambia beyond Statutory obligations,” the Cabinet said.

 

It further stated that the new business model will guarantee accurate disclosure of mineral consignments intended for export and internal consumption, permit the government to negotiate mineral prices, and share produced minerals.

10% to 20% of mines, including those controlled by Barrick Gold, Vedanta Resources, and First Quantum Minerals, are owned by ZCCM. It recently retained the remaining 51% of Mopani Copper Mines after selling the remaining portion to a division of United Arab Emirates International Holding Company.

Paul Kabuswe, Zambia’s minister of mines, told Reuters in February that Zambia intended to negotiate bigger stakes in new mining operations to increase revenue and encourage investment in social programs.

The nation aims to produce 3 million metric tons of copper annually within the next ten years as the demand for metal rises in the building and electricity sectors. In 2023, the nation produced 698,000 metric tons of copper, down from 763,000 metric tons the year before.

The production of copper decreased from 763,000 tons the year before to 698,000 tons the following year, according to the Zambia Chamber of Mines.

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Kenya’s govt authorizes sale of its stakes in 6 publicly traded firms

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According to President William Ruto’s office, the Kenyan cabinet has accepted a government proposal to sell shares it owns in six listed companies, including the nation’s stock exchange and a cement manufacturer.

The government will sell its holdings in battery manufacturer Eveready East Africa, Nairobi Securities Exchange, HF Group, Stanbic Holdings, Liberty Kenya Holdings, and East African Portland Cement, according to a statement released late on Tuesday by Ruto’s office.

 

The National Social Security Fund owns 27% of East African Portland, while the government owns a direct 25.3% share. The government holds 1.1% of Stanbic Holdings, 0.9% of Liberty Kenya Holdings, 2.41% of HF Group, 3.36% of Nairobi Securities Exchange, and 17.2% of Eveready.

This action is in line with government intentions to sell off stakes in further state-owned businesses. After passing a bill in October to provide guidelines for the process, Ruto said in November that the government intended to privatize 35 state-owned businesses.

 

But in December of last year, the opposition party filed a lawsuit to oppose the plan, arguing that some of the enterprises being sold had vital national interest and should only be sold with public approval. As a result, the plan encountered difficulties.

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