Category Archives: Ghana

3 Things I Learned Today in Ghana

1. It’s great to have friends in country

Not only fornthe hospitality, or the insights and view from inside, the ability to trust people to do what they say they’ll do is invaluable.

2. Projects are not always what they seem to be

A simple capital raise can reveal a need for a variety of consulting services

3. There’s nothing like on the ground presence.

I spent most of today with the management team of a Nigerian construction firm setting up in Ghana. Today they were looking for office space. Tomorrow they meet key decision makers whose influence can determine who wins contracts. American companies need to show this level of commitment or else be beaten to the punch by bold competitors from Africa, Asia, and Europe.

I was also reminded why I made this trip. I’m grateful for the opportunity to see first hand the changes that say much than the macroeconomic statistics. Now I’m  better prepared to explain this exciting and growing market.

 

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Ghana Today–a Story of Growth and Struggle

I arrived in Accra yesterday morning for my first visit in several years. While I’m here to meet with partners, colleagues,  and prospective clients, I’m also anxious to see see up closely of the changes I’ve been reading about.

A different Accra greeted me immediately. The airport arrival area was cleaner and much more orderly than before. On the way to my hotel I saw several new office buildings including the brand new Octagon. There’s also the fabulous new Movenpick. This enormous building is clearly designed for big event and caters to an international clientele.I’m  right around the corner at the Accra City Hotel, which has replaced the old Novotel on Barnes Rd. The arrived of these new premium properties are recognition of Accra as one of the premier meetings destinations in West Africa.

Later that day, during my ritual stroll around the neighborhood, I could see that much of the old Ghana remains. There’s the chaotic bustle of Makola market. The tro-tros still offer dirt cheap transportation along with new City buses tant world ont besoin ont of place in DC or Mexico City.

During the next two I will explore the current state of Ghana’s development,  focusing on energy, infrastructure, and the country’s efforts to lessen its dependence on raw commodities and become a more industrialized, higher value economy. Along the way I will highlight potential investment opportunities and suggest ways Ghana’s companies and governments can become more investor friendly. Stay tuned!

AccraCityHotel

Movenpick

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Major Africa Stock Market and Exchange Rate Changes in Q4-2014

Advansa International follows exchange rates and stock market indexes for several emerging and frontier markets. Exchange rates and stock indexes are recorded on the last trading day of the week. The tables below show changes from the last trading day of the last full week of the quarter for several key markets in Africa.

Table 1 

 STOCK MARKET INDEX TRACKER 4TH QUARTER 2014

AFRICA

COUNTRY

4TH QUARTER PCT CHANGE

GHANA-Local Currency

1.42%

GHANA-US$

2.83%

KENYA-Local Currency

-4.70%

KENYA-US$

-6.19%

NIGERIA-Local Currency

-15.66%

NIGERIA-US$

-27.06%

SOUTH AFRICA-Local Currency

-0.37%

SOUTH AFRICA-US$

-3.42%

WEST AFR. BOURSE-Local Currency

-1.91%

WEST AFR. BOURSE-US$

-6.05%

MSCI AFRICA-Local Currency

0.89%

MSCI AFRICA-US$

-2.52%

MSCI EMERGING MARKETS-Local Currency

-2.10%

MSCI EMERGING MARKETS-US$

-6.97%

Sources: Stock exchange websites, Financial Times, Advansa International data

Table 2

4TH QUARTER 2014 EXCHANGE RATE TRACKER

AFRICA

COUNTRY

4TH QTR PCT CHG

YTD

DEC PCT CHANGE

CFA AREA*

-4.14%

-11.66%

GHANA

1.41%

-25.86%

KENYA

-1.49%

-5.08%

NIGERIA

-11.40%

-13.27%

SOUTH AFRICA

-3.05%

-9.56%

TANZANIA

-2.07%

-7.42%

UGANDA

-3.88%

-9.18%

Sources: Financial Times, Advansa International data

*Includes most French speaking countries such as Benin, Cameroon, Cote D’ivoire, Guinea, Senegal, Togo and others

It was a rough year for emerging market stocks with the MSCI Emerging Markets Index losing 2.1% in the fourth quarter and 0.69% the full year 2014. African stock markets did better than emerging markets in Q4, though for the year the MSCI Africa index trailed emerging markets. Nigeria was the worst performer largely due to the fall in the price of oil. Its downward momentum continued into the first week of 2015 with the Global MSCI Nigeria ETF falling another 9%. Ghana was the strongest performer, up 1.42% in the 4th quarter, and 2.83% for the year.

All currencies in our table fell against the dollar in 2014, which diminishes returns (and increases losses) for foreign investors. This is partly a function of dollar strength rather than weakness of African currencies. The US economy finished the year strong and the dollar index was up from 99.1 at the end of 2013 to 102.8 at the end of 2014’s 3rd quarter. The currency depreciation also reflects the challenges to resource based emerging and frontier market economies that has persisted all year. A couple of currencies were especially weak. Ghana for example was down almost 26% in 2014. Aggressive action by the central bank, with the assistance of the IMF reversed the slide and the cedi has recovered, showing a slight gain in the fourth quarter. Nigeria’s naira showed the biggest loss of the quarter again influenced by the drop in the price of oil.

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Major African Stock Market and Exchange Rate Changes in Q3-2014

Advansa International follows exchange rates and stock market indexes for several emerging and frontier markets. Exchange rates and stock indexes are recorded on the last trading day of the week. The tables below show changes from the last trading day of the last full week of the quarter for several key markets in Africa.

Table 1 

 STOCK MARKET INDEX TRACKER 3RD QUARTER 2014

AFRICA

COUNTRY

3RD QUARTER PCT CHANGE

GHANA-Local Currency

-4.18%

GHANA-US$

-3.87%

KENYA-Local Currency

7.92%

KENYA-US$

6.18%

NIGERIA-Local Currency

-3.24%

NIGERIA-US$

-3.86%

SOUTH AFRICA-Local Currency

-1.90%

SOUTH AFRICA-US$

-7.28%

WEST AFR. BOURSE-Local Currency

9.21%

WEST AFR. BOURSE-US$

2.28%

MSCI AFRICA-Local Currency

0.52%

MSCI AFRICA-US$

-4.41%

MSCI EMERGING MARKETS-Local Currency

1.44%

MSCI EMERGING MARKETS-US$

-2.13%

Sources: Stock exchange websites, Financial Times, Advansa International data

Table 2

3RD QUARTER 2014 EXCHANGE RATE TRACKER

AFRICA

COUNTRY

3RD QTR PCT CHG

YTD

SEP PCT CHANGE

CFA AREA*

-6.92%

-7.85%

GHANA

0.31%

-26.89%

KENYA

-1.74%

-3.64%

NIGERIA

-0.62%

-2.10%

SOUTH AFRICA

-5.38%

-6.72%

TANZANIA

-1.16%

-5.46%

UGANDA

-1.89%

-5.51%

Sources: Financial Times, Advansa International data

*Includes most French speaking countries such as Benin, Cameroon, Cote D’ivoire, Guinea, Senegal, Togo and others

Emerging and frontier market stocks showed mixed results as the MSCI Emerging Markets Index rose 1.44%, and the MSCI Africa Index was up 0.52%. Choppy commodities prices, and mixed economic performance lead to losses in some countries like South Africa and gains in others. The Nairobi Exchange in Kenya and the West Africa Bourse were the strong performers in Q3.

Currencies that were weak in the first half of the year—notably Ghana—have largely stabilized. Though most currencies are lower against the dollar, this is due more to a strong dollar than weakness elsewhere. The US Dollar index rose from 99.316 in Q2 to 100.342 in Q3.

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Major African Stock Index and Exchange Rate Changes in Q2-2014

Advansa International follows exchange rates and stock market indexes for several emerging and frontier markets. Exchange rates and stock indexes are recorded on the last trading day of the week. The tables below show changes from the last trading day of the last full week of the quarter for several key markets in Africa.

Table 1 

 STOCK MARKET INDEX TRACKER 2ND QUARTER 2014

AFRICA

COUNTRY

2ND QUARTER PCT CHANGE

GHANA-Local Currency

-1.42%

GHANA-US$

-18.45%

KENYA-Local Currency

-2.78%

KENYA-US$

-3.86%

NIGERIA-Local Currency

10.06%

NIGERIA-US$

11.33%

SOUTH AFRICA-Local Currency

5.62%

SOUTH AFRICA-US$

5.32%

WEST AFR. BOURSE-Local Currency

-2.17%

WEST AFR. BOURSE-US$

-2.99%

MSCI AFRICA-Local Currency

4.25%

MSCI AFRICA-US$

3.94%

MSCI EMERGING MARKETS-Local Currency

4.44%

MSCI EMERGING MARKETS-US$

6.22%

Sources: Stock exchangewebsites, Financial Times, Advansa International data

 

Table 2

2ND QUARTER 2014 EXCHANGE RATE TRACKER

AFRICA

COUNTRY

2ND QTR PCT CHG 

 

YTD JUN PCT CHANGE 

CFA AREA*

-0.81%

-0.99%

GHANA

-17.03%

-27.12%

KENYA

-1.07%

-1.94%

NIGERIA

1.27%

-1.49%

SOUTH AFRICA

-0.30%

-1.42%

TANZANIA

-1.09%

-4.35%

UGANDA

-1.85%

-3.70%

Sources: Financial Times, Advansa International data

*Includes most French speaking countries such as Benin, Cameroon, Cote D’ivoire, Guinea, Senegal, Togo and others

The big markets–Nigeria and South Africa performed well. Both markets were up in local currency and in dollars.It appears that the long term story–the demographic boom, the growing middle class, the improved political environment in some countries–are causing investors to look past current bumps in the road.

Despite lackluster growth, South African stocks have been strong. The country remains an attractive investment destination, its stock market being the largest and most liquid in Africa.

Nigerian stocks have proven attractive to investors and Boko Haram attacks and new competition from North American shale oil have not changed anyone’s thinking so far. Most of the market activity is in the financial services sector lead by such firms as Access Capital and Guaranty Bank. Consumer goods companies such as Nigerian Brew have also showed strength. The naira actually gained a little during the quarter and remains within the narrow range that has prevailed all year.

In Ghana, currency weakness continues as the nation has sought IMF assistance to help get its accounts back toward balance. Trading activity is as usual dominated by the large consumer and financial service companies such as Fan Milk, UT Bank, and EcoBank. The stock market has weakened, reflecting caution among investors even though the economy is still growing. Could be a chance to get in the market cheap.

In fact, the current period is a possible second chance for international investors to invest in African assets at favorable prices when exchange rates make deals affordable and much of the bad news is already priced in.

 

 

 

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Ghana’s Currency, Millennium Challenge and Economic Prospects

The Millennium Challenge Corp. recently signed a second compact with the Republic of Ghana.http://www.state.gov/secretary/remarks/2014/08/230295.htm  This compact’s focus on the power sector addresses a major challenge to Ghana’s economic growth and to Ghanaians’ overall quality of life. The signing of the MCC compact is a good time to reflect on current economic and business conditions in Ghana.
Ghana is potentially a strong economic engine for the region and Secretary of State Kerry is right to cite Ghana’s commitment to good governance and economic prosperity. However the country faces some major challenges. Among them is the rapid depreciation of Ghana’s currency. Our data shows that the cedi lost about 27% in the 1st half of the year and has continued to fall since then. Currency weakness in Ghana is a symptom of persistent trade deficits as well as rising government spending. The financial community has noticed and has raised the issue in several forums and publications. It doesn’t change the longer term story of Ghana’s growth potential (in fact dollar based investors might find favorable prices for Ghanaian assets) but it does raise questions about how government will handle the problem while remaining investor friendly.
Red flags went up earlier this year when the government began to restrict the movement of currency, damaging Ghana’s reputation for financial openness. The more sensible answer is to change the character of Ghanaian trade. Surpluses might be a lot to ask but Ghana should at least aim for smaller trade deficits. Ramping up the nascent oil sector would help but there should also be greater orientation toward exporting in several sectors. This is why reliable electric power is so crucial. It’s location, general business friendliness and political stability make Ghana a logical export platform for the West Africa region as well as destinations further abroad. However for indigenous and foreign investors to locate in Ghana reliable electric power is essential. For that reason we should all hope for the success of this second MCC compact.

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3 African Currencies – Outlook for Direct Investors

What follows is a brief analysis of the behavior of currencies in 3 important African economies.

GHANA CEDI
The persistent trade deficit that is the norm in Ghana seems to be increasing. That deficit contributes to price inflation and the two conditions combine to weaken the currency.
The Ghana Central Bank is fighting back by raising interest rates which are already high. The cedi is likely to remain weak until the general pattern of Ghanaian trade changes. One of the reasons for Ghana’s growing trade deficit is the increase in equipment imported to support oil production which has not yet reached the desired production levels. When oil production will grows to the point at which it reduces the need to import, and when Ghana develops additional sources of high value export earnings, then a lower trade deficit will become the norm.
Although investors should build currency weakness into their assessment of Ghanaian deals and projects, they should also build the ability to raise prices locally into financial forecasts, and consider Ghana as a possible export platform.

KENYA SHILLING
The shilling has fallen only about 1% in the last year and a half through March 2014. Since then it has stayed within a narrow range.
Kenya’s trade surplus is rising and so are international reserves. The Kenyan Central Bank has kept interest rates steady and treasury bills have fallen slightly. It seems a radical devaluation is not likely, though the shilling/dollar rate might move outside the 86-88 range where it has been for about the last 18 months.

NIGERIA NAIRA
Recent inflation has been falling on a quarter on quarter basis. Nigeria’s trade surplus increased during 2013. Interest rates held within a narrow band during 2013 and have fallen a bit in 2014. Naira has stayed between 155-165 for 2 years. While the naira could lose a little ground vs the dollar simply due to much lower US inflation, many investors consider it stable for investment purposes.

 

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Major African Stock Index and Exchange Rate Changes in Q1-2014

 

 

 

Advansa International follows exchange rates and stock market indexes for several emerging and frontier markets. Exchange rates and stock indexes are recorded on the last trading day of the week. The tables below show changes from the last trading day of the last full week of the quarter for several key markets in Africa.

Table 1 

 STOCK MARKET INDEX TRACKER 1ST QUARTER 2014

AFRICA

COUNTRY

1ST QUARTER PCT CHANGE

GHANA-Local Currency

11.37%

GHANA-US$

-0.80%

KENYA-Local Currency

1.76%

KENYA-US$

0.88%

NIGERIA-Local Currency

-4.72%

NIGERIA-US$

-7.45%

SOUTH AFRICA-Local Currency

0.48%

SOUTH AFRICA-US$

3.68%

WEST AFR. BOURSE-Local Currency

5.07%

WEST AFR. BOURSE-US$

4.88%

MSCI AFRICA-Local Currency

3.80%

MSCI AFRICA-US$

0.33%

MSCI EMERGING MARKETS-Local Currency

0.79%

MSCI EMERGING MARKETS-US$

-0.23%

Sources: Stock exchangewebsites, Financial Times, Advansa International data

 

Table 2

1ST QUARTER 2014 EXCHANGE RATE TRACKER

AFRICA

COUNTRY

1ST QTR PCT CHG

YTD

MAR PCT CHANGE

CFA AREA*

-0.18%

-0.18%

GHANA

-12.16%

-12.16%

KENYA

-0.88%

-0.88%

NIGERIA

-2.73%

-2.73%

SOUTH AFRICA

-1.12%

-1.12%

TANZANIA

-3.30%

-3.30%

UGANDA

-1.88%

-1.88%

Sources: Financial Times, Advansa International data

*Includes most French speaking countries such as Benin, Cameroon, Cote D’ivoire, Guinea, Senegal, Togo and others

2014 marks a change in investor sentiment towards the emerging and frontier markets. We see a shift from the mad rush into EMs of the past 3-4 years to people wondering if all the emerging market hype is a bit overblown. The announcement of tapering by the US Fed in 2013 was the trigger. In Africa the new outlook is manifest in continued currency weakness and retrenchment in several key stock indexes.

Every currency in our table lost ground in the first quarter. This is in spite of monetary tightening and rising interest rates across the board. Indeed, monetary policy in most of these markets has been fairly rational. On the fiscal side, however governments are finding it difficult to control spending. These are countries with young populations climbing out of poverty. They are at a developmental stage that demands rapid growth and are under tremendous political pressure to deliver social services and better infrastructure, all of which leads to deficits in the trade and fiscal accounts.

Ghana is a conspicuous example among this group. We see from the tables that Ghanaian stocks performed quite well while the currency was the weakest among prominent African economies. Many companies are performing well and investors anticipate future growth so stock prices are rising. However the trade benefits of the nascent oil sector have not materialized and have in fact generated additional imports as production ramps up. Thus the trade balance deteriorates. The resulting inflation on top of politically driven spending increases puts downward pressure on the cedi.

Yet it is these same characteristics that make the emerging markets such as Ghana attractive to investors. Among the larger markets that attract most of the trading volume, the currency issue is not as urgent. If this is a short term correction and if governments and investors don’t panic, then the long term trends will continue to imply growth and favorable investment outcomes.

 

 

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EMERGING MARKET INVESTING PART III – 5 KEY TAKEAWAYS FOR THE ENTERPRISE

For managers and entrepreneurs seeking private investment to fund an enterprise, the current environment is challenging, though still an improvement compared to prior decades. In Part III of our series, we offer 5 takeaways from 2013. These are concepts that are particularly appropriate to current market conditions and sensible in any period in the cycle.

1. Be mindful of the investing environment. We recall from Part I that private equity activity was down somewhat in 2013. Deals were down 7% and fundraising down 19% from the previous year. We know that the BRICS and other emerging economies have slowed down. So for the time being at least the emerging markets have lost some of their luster. All this has affected investor’s attitudes. Yet the long term outlook still looks good which is the message we stick to and the reason emerging economies still attract investor interest.

2. Owners and management should have a realistic understanding of the value of their enterprise, and where it fits into the spectrum of potential investments. They should also have thought through carefully their mission and objectives for the enterprise, for themselves, and for their communities.

3. Demonstrate the strength of the business model including evidence that the business or project can provide consistent cash flow. Examples include:

  • Signed contracts for current and future sales
  • For housing developments, a significant proportion of homes pre-sold either to residents or a large employer buying for its staff.
  • Offtake agreements for energy and power projects
  • Infrastructure projects that can collect tolls or user fees

4. Government support never hurts. Although most developing countries have improved business and political climates, they are still relatively difficult places to do business. It is therefore desirable to be on good terms with the relevant government bodies so. When everyone’s interests are aligned the red tape can be minimized.

The extent to which government backing is needed varies with the type of deal. For small startups it may not be necessary at all. In some cases the government is the customer then of course the company must be in a position to win a contract. In lieu of a contract, an MOU or government guarantee may be sufficient.

It should be noted that while government support is crucial, companies should avoid any activity that can be construed as corrupt as it will be an immediate turnoff to the investor. US investors are especially wary of running afoul of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Any investor not appropriately concerned is probably one to avoid.

5. Strength of the management team. Investors look for relevant experience, a level of professionalism and an understanding of international performance standards. Most important, management and founders/owners should be prepared to act in the interest of building the value of the enterprise.

Current market conditions in emerging market PE investing indicate a plateau in deal growth. In this environment founders/owners should pay special attention to those factors that attract good investors. We think this is a short term phenomenon—a sensible pullback from the emerging market fever of the past few years. However the broader demographic, economic and geopolitical trends will continue to favor emerging markets in the long run. We believe capital will flow towards companies that have strengthened their foundations during the current slowdown.

 

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Emerging Markets Exchange Rates & Interest Rates 14 March 2014

 

 

EXCHANGE RATES 3/7/2014 3/14/2014 %CHG
AMERICAS
 
ARGENTINA 7.8613 7.8945 -0.42%
BRAZIL 2.3407 2.3598 -0.81%
CHILE 565.3500 571.5900 -1.09%
COLUMBIA 2,038.3300 2,041.4800 -0.15%
COSTA RICA 559.6900 549.9650 1.77%
JAMAICA 108.2650 108.7450 -0.44%
MEXICO 13.1922 13.2290 -0.28%
PERU 2.8035 2.8040 -0.02%
TRINIDAD & TOBAGO 6.3820 6.3810 0.02%
VENEZUELA 6.2921 6.2921 0.00%
 
 
AFRICA
 
BOTSWANA 8.7873 8.8456 -0.66%
COTE D’IVOIRE (CFA) 473.2050 471.0640 0.45%
GHANA 2.5333 2.5520 -0.73%
KENYA 86.5500 86.5000 0.06%
NAMIBIA 10.7383 10.7215 0.16%
NIGERIA 164.6000 164.6500 -0.03%
SENEGAL (CFA) 473.2050 471.0640 0.45%
SOUTH AFRICA 10.7383 10.7215 0.16%
TANZANIA 1,633.0000 1,635.5000 -0.15%
UGANDA 2,515.0000 2,520.0000 -0.20%
ZAMBIA 5.9600 6.0500 -1.49%
ZAMBIA-Boz Bid 5.9401 6.0208 -1.34%
ZAMBIA-Boz Ask 5.9501 6.0308 -1.34%
ZIMBABWE 378.0000 378.0000 0.00%
 
INDIA 61.0950 61.1650 -0.11%
 
 
INTEREST RATES 3/7/2014 3/14/2014
 
UNITED STATES
3 month T-Bill 0.06% 0.05%
6 Month T-Bill 0.09% 0.08%
10 Year T-Bond 2.80% 2.65%
30 Yr Fixed Mortgage-Bankrate.com 4.45% 4.50%
30 Yr Fixed Mortgage-MBA 4.52%
 
 
AMERICAS
 
BRAZIL
SELIC Rate-Daily 10.65% 10.65%
 
MEXICO
3 Month T-Bill 3.29% 3.30%
6 Month T-Bill 3.45% 3.44%
1 Year T-Bill 3.64% 3.62%
 
PERU
Central Bank Reference Rate 4.00% 4.00%
 
AFRICA
 
GHANA
3 Month T-Bill 21.23% 22.89%
6 Month T-Bill 20.99% 21.11%
1 Year T-Bill 17.00% 20.00%
2 Year T-Bill 17.50% 20.00%
3 Year T-Bill
5 Year T-Bill
 
KENYA
3 Month T-Bill 9.12% 8.95%
6 Month T-Bill 10.35% 10.05%
1 Year T-Bond 10.61% 10.41%
4 Year T-Bond
 
NAMIBIA
3 month T-Bill
6 Month T-Bill
1 Year T-Bill
 
NIGERIA
91 Day Gov’t Security-OMO
182 Day Gov’t Security-OMO
364 Day Gov’t Security-OMO
91 Day Gov’t Security-PMO 12.25% 12.25%
182 Day Gov’t Security-PMO 14.31% 14.31%
364 Day Gov’t Security-PMO 15.61% 15.61%
 
SOUTH AFRICA
3 Month T-Bill 5.76% 5.75%
6 Month T-Bill 6.21% 6.21%
1 Year T-Bill 6.63% 6.50%
10.5% (2026) 8.44% 8.54%
13.5% (2015) 6.94% 7.01%
 
UGANDA
3 month T-Bill 9.76% 9.76%
6 Month T-Bill
1 Year T-Bill
2 Year T-Bond 13.72% 13.72%
3 Year T-Bond 13.19% 13.19%
5 Year T-Bond 13.92% 13.92%
10 Year T-Bond 13.94% 13.94%
 
ZAMBIA
3 Month T-Bill 8.00% 8.00%
6 Month T-Bill 14.90% 15.00%
1 Year T-Bill 15.23% 15.45%
2 Year T-Bill 14.00% 14.00%
3 Year T-Bill 15.00% 15.00%
5 Year T-Bond 16.00% 16.00%
10 Year T-Bond 17.90% 17.90%
15 Year T-Bond 17.90% 17.90%
INDIA
3 Month T-Bill 9.19% 9.27%
6 Month T-Bill 9.10% 9.12%
1 Year T-Bill 9.03% 9.03%
Base Lending Rate 10.25% 10.25%
Policy Rate 9.00% 9.00%

 

 

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