What you need to know:
- The move seeks to woo foreign investors, who have recently withdrawn from Uganda to move to countries with high-interest returns
Uganda is broadening its strategy to boost dollar reserves by listing bonds on multiple emerging and frontier market indices.
The move seeks to woo foreign investors, who have recently withdrawn from Uganda to move to countries with high interest returns.
Uganda’s foreign exchange reserves declined to $3.6b in January, down to three months of import cover from December, which is below East Africa’s threshold of four months.
Ministry of Finance data shows that offshore investors’ holding of domestic debt declined significantly from 11.2 percent to 6.3 percent in June last year following persistent increase in interest rates in more advanced economies.
Uganda is presently in talks to list on the JP Morgan Emerging Markets Global Index after first being included on the AfDB’s Ababi index.
The indices offer worldwide exposure to the country’s securities, potentially drawing in additional foreign investment and reducing the cost of government borrowing.
“To sustainably build robust foreign exchange reserves, we are currently engaged in wider market adoption of international swaps and derivatives agreement to facilitate derivative trading as a risk management-hedging and funding tool. This is in addition to the global master repurchase agreement,” Mr Michael Atingi-Ego, the Bank of Uganda deputy governor, said last week during the Absa 2023 Economic Outlook Forum in Kampala, noting that the adoption will broaden Central Bank’s toolkit for monetary and foreign exchange policy implementation.
In the process
Swaps and derivatives allow entities to hedge against various risks, including interest rate, currency, commodity price and credit risks.
Mr Atingi-Ego said Uganda is in the process of adopting the Forex Exchange Global Code of Conduct to support ethical trading in the financial markets.
In July last year, Ugandan securities began to gain international exposure after they were listed on the FTSE Frontier Emerging Markets Government Bond Index.
Bank of Uganda is taking steps to address the dollar scarcity that began in the first week of June 2022, prompting the Central Bank to scale back its sales-side interventions in the foreign exchange market.
“The reserves were running low because we normally build them by purchasing dollars, which come in through portfolio investors, but because of the inflationary environment in the advanced economies, the central banks of those economies began to raise interest rates thereby reducing the appetite for foreign investors who are coming into our markets. So we saw a reduction of portfolio inflows, which resulted in loss of foreign currency,” Mr Atingi-ego said.