Africa’s Biggest Economies at Risk In Fed Tapering, Fitch Says

Africa’s Biggest Economies at Risk In Fed Tapering, Fitch Says

Countries in sub-Saharan Africa that rely on short-term capital flows to finance large current accounts and budget deficits are vulnerable to tightening global liquidity conditions, analysts said in a Bloomberg report.

If the Federal Reserve curbs stimulus, sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest economies including South Africa, Kenya and Ghana are among those most at risk, Fitch Ratings Ltd. said.

Other countries are also vulnerable including Mozambique, where much of the current-account deficit is financed through foreign direct investment, Fitch said. Rwanda receives substantial concessional funding.

Speculation about when the Fed will start tapering its $85 billion-a-month monetary stimulus program has affected emerging-market currencies in countries that rely on short-term flows into their bond and equity markets to fund deficits, the report said. The rand weakened 16 percent against the dollar this year, the Kenyan shilling fell 1 percent and Ghana’s cedi lost 13 percent.

South Africa is forecast to run a budget deficit of 4.6 percent of gross domestic product through March, while the shortfall on the current account is forecast at 6.2 percent this year, according to the National Treasury, Bloomberg reports. Ghana’s fiscal shortfall in the first seven months of 2013 was 6.3 percent of GDP, compared with a target of 5.6 percent, the Bank of Ghana said. Kenya’s current-account gap widened to $4.7 billion in May from $3.84 billion a year earlier, the Central Bank of Kenya said.

Sub-Saharan Africa would still be less vulnerable to Fed tapering and monetary tightening than more mainstream emerging markets “due to external financing requirements and the largely non-concessional nature of their foreign debt,” according to Fitch. “Sub-Saharan Africa is also shielded by financial markets which are not as globally integrated and improved reserve cover.”