Author: Antonio Guerrero

SENEGAL LANDS SOVEREIGN RATING

By  Antonio Guerrero

Senegal received its first-ever sovereign credit rating from Moody’s in March, as the government prepared to launch its debut $500 million Eurobond.

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Reaping the benefits

Moody’s granted Senegal a B1 rating, with a stable outlook, similar to that of Lebanon. The agency said the rating is supported by Senegal’s moderate but rising debt burden, infrastructure investments and relatively long-standing political stability. Senegal’s economy is projected to grow by 4.4% this year, following a 4% expansion in 2010. The government in February unveiled a $132 million program to help small- and medium-size businesses gain access to credit and electricity, in a move that could further support growth.

Kenya is hoping to convert the capital city of Nairobi into a regional financial services hub to rival Johannesburg. The government is pushing for construction of the proposed Nairobi International Financial Center, to be modeled after similar facilities in Qatar and Ireland. The complex would house investment firms, brokerage houses, insurers and banks, among other financial institutions. A steering committee to draft a financial services law that would facilitate the project began meeting in March. The government expects the hub to create jobs and help secure financing for key infrastructure projects. Finance minister Uhuru Kenyatta estimates the center could also boost the financial services industry’s economic impact to 15% of GDP, from a current 5.4%.

FIFA’s record financial takings from the 2010 soccer World Cup in South Africa could open the door to other sporting mega-events on the continent. The Zurich-based organization says last year’s matches in South Africa produced $3.655 billion in earnings for FIFA, despite initial warnings from critics about the risks associated with holding the event in Africa. Of the $4.189 billion earned by FIFA over the past four years, 87% was generated in South Africa, bringing its four-year earnings above $4 billion for the first time. Revenue was generated through the sale of broadcasting rights, sponsorship contracts and other marketing opportunities. The success of the tournament vindicates the International Olympic Committee, which has in the past urged African nations to bid for upcoming Olympic Games.