Ghana is planning to raise as much as $1 billion through a sale of sustainable bonds, including Africa’s first social debt to fund a flagship policy to broaden access to education.
The proceeds would help refinance domestic debt used for social and environmental projects, including loans taken to pay for the government’s free senior secondary school policy, Minister of State at the Ministry of Finance, Charles Adu Boahen told Bloomberg.
The use of social bonds has boomed since the coronavirus pandemic, yet so far only a few sovereign issuers have sold them, including Chile and Ecuador. The European Union has emerged as the largest player, to fund a jobs recovery program, smashing global debt demand records in the process as investors flock to ethical assets.
“With this issue we’re looking at refinancing those debt already raised to undertake projects in the environmental and social sectors,” Adu Boahen said. “Out of all that we will raise with our capital market mandate this year, only $1.5 billion is fresh debt, the rest is for refinance or buyback.”
The sale, likely to be a mix of social and green bonds, would come months after Ghana sold four-year zero-coupon debt to international investors as part of a $3.025 billion Eurobond deal that also included 20-year, 12-year and seven-year securities. The country mandated Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc., Standard Chartered Plc, Standard Bank Group Ltd. and Rand Merchant Bank Ltd. as lead arrangers for the deal.
The government will tap some of the same advisers for the sustainable bonds issuance, Adu Boahen said, without giving more details.
That will help plug a budget gap in Africa’s top gold producer, which is expected to be 9.5% of gross domestic product this year, down from 11.7% shortfall in 2020. President Nana Akufo-Addo’s administration has had to increase seats in public senior secondary schools since it started implementing free education at that level in 2017.