QUARTERLY UPDATE & OUTLOOK AFRICAN EQUITIES
Frontier and emerging markets are witnessing a tough phase owing to the major flows directed to either US equites and/ or rising yields fixed income portfolios. With only a quarter to go for 2018, most asset managers are eyeing 2019 for some stability and new flows into equities.
The outlook for Sub Saharan Africa remains positive especially given the global sell-off in risky assets which has made share prices even more attractive. The main reason for the positive outlook in increased infrastructure investments, urbanization, foreign direct investments and increasing political stability combined with economic reforms.
Nigeria will be holding general elections in February 2019, which will hopefully clear much uncertainty and enable the new government to focus on driving economic growth. In Kenya, the interest rate caps are hampering the economy from reaching its potential – it is expected that the caps will be removed in the near future.
In South Africa, additional volatility will likely come from the newly created Zondo Commission which, even though it won’t have the powers to prosecute, will be able to produce some evidence of South Africa’s “state capture”. For Ghana, strong domestic demand is expected to emerge from buoyant private consumption and healthy investment activity and the external sector is expected to perform robustly next year due to a favorable price outlook for Ghana’s key commodity exports. GDP, resultantly, is likely to expand by 6.8% in 2018 and 6.2% in 2019.
In North Africa, Moroccan economic growth stood at 2.8% in the Q3 after it was limited to 2.4% during the second quarter of 2018. The growth is linked to improvements in both the agricultural and non-agricultural sectors. Egypt has adopted an ambitious and politically difficult economic reform program that won the praise of international financial institutions and its main economic partners.
While much progress has been made on several fronts the repeated cancellations of bond auctions has had a negative impact on foreign investors, further eroding their interest in future auctions and undermining confidence in the country’s economic management. Egyptian authorities are trying to balance two objectives: securing financial resources (including foreign) to finance their budget deficits, which would require a higher interest rate, but at the same time, they want to enhance economic activities and growth, and avoid a sharp increase in the interest bill.
Any increase in the interest rate will have serious implications for the budget deficit, which is targeted to be reduced below 9% of GDP this coming fiscal year, one of the objectives under the IMF-supported program.