Ivory Coast Sees First-Ever B1 Moody Rating, Unprecedented Growth

Ivory Coast Sees First-Ever B1 Moody Rating, Unprecedented Growth

Ivory Coast, for the first time, achieved a B1 credit rating with a positive outlook from Moody, VenturesAfrica reports.

Thanks to sustained and unprecedented economic growth, the country raised its 2014 budget by nearly 4 percent on expectations of higher earnings from natural gas, cocoa and the ports, according to a report in VenturesAfrica.

The largest economy of French-speaking West Africa and the world’s top cocoa grower, Ivory Coast has enjoyed an economic turnaround since a decade of political turmoil ended in 2011. Its economy grew around 9 percent in 2013 and is expected to grow 9.1 percent in 2014. In May, Ivory Coast announced a surprise first-quarter budget surplus after state revenues — mostly from improved tax collection — exceeded expectations by around 31 percent.

The country is also being issued a $500-million Eurobond — also with a B1 credit rating — ranking it four notches below investment-grade. Expected to be issued this month, the bond will mark Ivory Coast’s first venture onto the international capital markets since defaulting on a previous Eurobond during a brief post-election civil war three years ago.

According to Reuters, “The government resumed coupon payments on the defaulted $2.5 billion Eurobond after securing $4 billion in debt relief in June 2012 under an IMF-World Bank scheme. It has since emerged as one of non-oil producing Africa’s best-performing credits.”

Government spokesman Bruno Kone said Wednesday after a cabinet meeting, “The cabinet adopted a finance bill revision that brings the 2014 state budget to 4.41 trillion CFA francs ($9.16 billion), up from 4.23 trillion CFA francs initially.”

Kone said the new budget would see investment spending increase from 1.26 trillion CFA francs to 1.31 trillion CFA francs for 2014 — signaling, he said, a strong economy.