Côte d’Ivoire surpasses SA to top sub-Saharan African sovereign rating — S&P report

Côte d’Ivoire surpasses SA to top sub-Saharan African sovereign rating — S&P report

Côte d’Ivoire, the world’s top cocoa producer, has risen to the top spot as the best-rated sovereign in sub-Saharan Africa with foreign debt outstanding, overtaking South Africa, according to the latest S&P Global Ratings.

While both countries maintain their BB- ratings by S&P Global Ratings, Côte d’Ivoire shifted to positive on what the ratings company said was an improving debt profile, while South Africa has kept its stable outlook.

Experts say the positive shift is due to Côte d’Ivoire’s improving debt profile and issuance of $2.6 billion in Eurobonds in January, demonstrating the West African country’s fiscal strength as the first regional economy to have broken sub-Saharan Africa’s nearly two-year lockout from international capital markets. Its economy, one of the region’s fastest-growing, is projected to expand by 6.5% in 2024, up from 6.2% last year.

The latest S&P Global Ratings also shows that the yield on Côte d’Ivoire’s debt maturing in 2028 fell to the lowest level of 7.09% since 15 April as of Monday (20 May), while South Africa’s dollar debt due in 2030 traded at a yield of 6.9%, down from over 8.5% in October “The rating trajectory of Côte d’Ivoire over the past ten years has been impressive,” said Samir Gadio, head of Africa strategy at Standard Chartered. “Many other African sovereigns have been downgraded over that period.”

Côte d’Ivoire’s economy continues to outpace its regional counterparts, with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) projecting a robust growth rate of 6.5% for 2024, up from 6.2% in the previous year, despite a decline of about 30% in cocoa production during the 2023-24 season.

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