Central African Republic

Country Summary

Economic performance and outlook: Deteriorating security accounted for stagnant growth from 2016 to 2017. Security issues increased the number of displaced persons, hindering agricultural production, trade, and foreign investment. Real GDP growth in 2017 was estimated at 4.5%, indicating some economic recovery, but fell short of the projected 5.3%. Growth was driven primarily by recovery in forestry and mining following the lifting of international sanctions, as well as by the vitality of the tertiary sector and trade. Although returning farmers and insecurity continued to weigh on agriculture and livestock production, economic activity is expected to rise in 2018–19, and average annual growth is projected at 5% or higher. Growth in 2018 and 2019 will hinge on improved domestic security, which is crucial to agricultural recovery and implementation of investment plans and economic reforms supported by international partners. 

Macroeconomic evolution: Ongoing efforts initiated during the transition period in 2017 to consolidate public finances made it possible to leverage more public resources while improving the management of public finances. The budget balance shrank to an estimated deficit of 0.1 of GDP in 2017 due to higher public expenditure, particularly social expenditure. Public expenditure exceeded 14.5% of GDP in 2017, and domestic revenues were 8.9% of GDP in 2016. Inflationary pressures fell with the gradual recovery in food production, improved security along the main transportation corridor for foreign trade, and overall currency stability within the Central African Economic and Monetary Union. Inflation fell to an estimated 3.8% in 2017, from 4.6% in 2016. Measures to clear arrears reduced public debt, allowing the debt-to-GDP ratio to drop from 44.3% in 2016 to 38.3% in 2017. The current account deficit rose to 9.7% in 2017, from 5% in 2016, due to a decline in exports; import volumes remained roughly the same. 

Tailwinds: After three years of difficult political transition, the strongest tailwind was the return of constitutional order, during which the main civilian institutions specified in the Constitution were established. Another tailwind was the international community’s support for the new leaders’ efforts to promote a peaceful, democratic, and prosperous society. The structural and economic reforms resulted in significant progress, particularly in public finances. 

Headwinds: The political transition following the overthrow of the Bozizé regime by the Seleka rebellion ended, but serious security issues remain. Although security in the capital Bangui improved sharply, intercommunity tensions and clashes between armed groups still plague the country. This unrest prevents public services and humanitarian organizations from reaching people affected by the crisis. The economy faces major structural problems, particularly a severe shortage of infrastructure and a business climate that remains unattractive to private investors.

Source: African Economic Outlook 2018

Fixed Income

Summary

The CEMAC securities yield curve extended to 5 years with 9 benchmark points along the curve (3m-6m-1-1.5-2-3-3.5-4 and 5 years). 

The issuance strategy is based solely on funding the budget. Constructing the yield curve is not taken into account in the issuance strategy. The issuance methods used are the auction method and the underwriting method.

Issuance strategy 

CEMAC states may issue new lines on the financial market in Libreville or in Douala. They can also use the auction market for government securities which is organized by the Central Bank, the Banque des Etats de l’Afrique Centrale (BEAC). The states have no proper debt strategy in place. 

Benchmark issues 

There are 9 benchmarks maturities for government securities in local currency in the CEMAC zone:  3m-6m-1-1.5-2-3-3.5-4 and 5 years. 

Yield curve 

Yield curve calculation models 

The BEAC prepared its own in-house method for computing its yield curve: the implied yield curve.

Interpolation methods 

The Brandt interpolation method is used in the CEMAC region. 

Yield curve managed by 

The BEAC is responsible for calculating the yield curve on a monthly basis. 

Challenges in building an efficient yield curve 

  • Illiquid and limited secondary market: buy-and-hold investors 
  • Narrow investor base: only banks are involved in the bond market 
  • Coexistence of three agencies for issuing bonds and bills: the Douala Stock Exchange (DSX) and the Bourse des Valeurs Mobilières de l’Afrique Centrale (BVMAC) are in charge of syndication. The Banque des Etats de l’Afrique Centrale (BEAC) is responsible for auctions.
  • Lack of issuance strategy in CEMAC states
  • Lack of reliable data
  • Lack of long-term maturity
  • Two countries had never issued on the domestic market as of end-2015

Guide to Buying Bonds

Procedures for market participation

The BEAC organizes the auction on behalf of the states. The auction takes place at the asking price. Orders are served retained interest rates or the price offered by the bidders within the maximum interest rate or maximum price decided by the government.

At the end of the auction, the general information, including the amount of bids expressed the amounts used and the rate and limit price selected are disseminated through the press.

The methods of creating, presenting and counting of the tenders shall be determined by agreements on the one hand, between BEAC and National Treasuries, and secondly, between the BEAC and the Primary Dealers (PD). Subscriptions to government securities are firm and irrevocable. They are paid in a single payment by debiting the account of the PDs at the BEAC and credited to a special Treasury account opened for this purpose.

Given that the debt market is under developed, the optimal schedule has been adopted as part of regular program.

The six National Treasures issue in turn at regular intervals.

Each National Treasury will issue T-Bills weekly on Wednesday. The amounts are generally low to allow all states to issue at the same time, resulting in each State having fifty-two issues of T-Bills per year.

Each National Treasury can issue T-Bonds monthly. The auctions are scheduled to take place every Wednesday. However, given the nature of the instrument and the expected volume of transactions in relation to the needs for public investment, treasuries are not able to issue on the set day.

A shift schedule was developed for planned Wednesday auction sessions: 

  • Cameroon: 1st Wednesday of the month
  • Central Africa - Congo: 2nd Wednesday of the month
  • Gabon: 3rd Wednesday of the month
  • Equatorial Guinea-Chad: 4th Wednesday of the month

These emissions will occur at regular time intervals and are publicly known.

The total amount of the twelve issuances will be released in the Finance Act each year.

For each fiscal year, this amount will be communicated to the market by the Minister of Finance no later than November 30th of the previous year.

This communication from the Minister responsible for finance may take the form of a conference, briefing or a press release. The amount of the emission will not be announced at this time.

However, the amount to be raised for each auction is specified in the auction announcement in accordance with National Treasury issuance calendar.

On the secondary market, the T-Bills are traded OTC and the T-Bonds are traded on the DSX and the BVMAC.

Settlement cycle

The settlement of transactions takes place at T+3.

Taxation

The level of taxation pursuant to Regulation No. 14/07 - UEAC-175-CM-15 instituting a specific tax regime applicable to the transactions listed on the Securities of Central Africa (BVMAC) "are exempt from income Tax Securities (IRVM) or any other taxes or levies of a similar nature, interest obligations of States for residents of the CEMAC." Subscribers residing outside the CEMAC zone must comply with income tax laws of their country of residence. The Issuer shall levy any withholding tax on loan repayments.

Rating

Rating AgencyCurrent ratingOutlook
Moody’sNo ratingNo outlook
FitchNo ratingNo outlook
Standard and Poor’sNo ratingNo outlook

Primary Dealers

Auctions of Government securities are exclusively reserved for Primary Dealers. Each CEMAC state has its own network of Primary Dealers. However, a credit institution, which meets the eligibility requirements, may be a Primary dealer only for the country they belong to or upon request, all the states. The Ministers of Finance, select Primary Dealers from all the credit institutions in CEMAC that meet specifications adopted by the Committee of Ministers, after consulting the Monetary Policy Committee.

Market restrictions

Openness to international investors

Foreign investors can access the debt market under the same terms as nationals of the zone. There are no rules that discriminate foreign participants in the market.

Capital control

This is no restriction on foreign ownership in the CEMAC zone.

Restrictions on FX and profit repatriation

There are no restrictions on obtaining foreign exchange.

The regional central bank, the BEAC, issues CFA for circulation among the members of the CEMAC. Although the Central African franc is at par with the West African CFA franc, the two currencies are not usually accepted for payment in each other’s zones.

Foreign investors have the right to repatriate earnings and the profits from sales of financial instruments. There are no restrictions on converting or transferring funds associated with investments, including remittances of investment capital, earnings, loan repayments, and lease payments.

Documents & Resources

Documents - Other sources