East Africa Targets Cross-Border Debt Sales to Fund New Railways

The East African Community plans to allow bond sales across four markets in the bloc as investors look to fund projects such as railways that will link up the region.

The framework will allow for the sale of “multi-jurisdictional, multi-currency” debt from within or outside the four-country group, Paul Muthaura, acting chief executive officer of the Capital Markets Authority in Kenya, the region’s biggest economy, said at a conference in Cape Town today.

The group that also includes Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda is set to expand 6 percent this year, faster than the sub-Saharan African average of 5.1 percent, according to the International Monetary Fund, as governments in the region invest in roads and energy projects. Kenya sold infrastructure bonds last month for the first time in a year.

A railway linking Mombasa, Kenya with Kigali and Kampala is project that may be funded with debt, Muthaura said. Another is the Lamu Port and New Transport Corridor Development to Southern Sudan and Ethiopia project, which will include an oil pipeline and refinery, he said.

‘‘As we see many domestic issuers in any one of the EAC markets moving into the others, they want to be able to capital raise relevant to their pipeline of projects in different countries,’’ he said. One ‘‘regional entity’’ has been approved for a bond sale, Muthaura said, without giving details.

‘‘They’re just looking at the markets to find the right timing for the issuance,’’ he said. ‘‘There are ongoing engagements with other potential issuers. We’re hoping to see that once an actual issuance hits the market, we hope it will have a very catalytic effect.’’

Kenyan shilling sovereign debt returned 0.8 percent this quarter, compared with a loss of less than 0.1 percent among 16 emerging markets tracked by Bloomberg indexes.

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