External debt restructuring: Ofori-Atta travels to China next week; Government to meet bondholders

The Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, and some government officials will travel to China on January 23 as Ghana seeks to restructure the $5.4 billion bilateral debt of which China owns a substantial amount.

China and France co-chair Ghana’s Official Creditor Committee and the agreement reached with the committee is key to unlocking more funding from a $3 billion International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout out package.

The country will also re-engage with its international bondholders from next week, as it seeks to build on the momentum of a deal last week to restructure $5.4 billion of bilateral debt.

Ghana will seek to continue discussions after meeting holders of its about $13 billion in outstanding Eurobonds in Marrakech in October 2023, Mr. Ofori-Atta said in an interview on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting.

Restructuring negotiations last year was a “very difficult, painful process,” but Ghana has “built pretty good momentum”, Mr. Ofori-Atta told Reuters.

The IMF board is due to meet on Friday, January 19, 2024, to decide on a $600 million disbursement from Ghana’s bailout programme. Getting approval would unlock funding from other multilateral lenders.

The World Bank is expected to decide on $550 million of “sorely needed” funding on January 25, 2024, Mr. Ofori-Atta added.

Ghana is reworking its debts under the Common Framework, a restructuring process set up by the G20 countries during the COVID-19 pandemic that has been criticised for slow results.

The country defaulted on its external debt in December 2022 after debt servicing costs soared. It is looking to restructure $20 billion of external debt, which totalled about $30 billion at the end of 2022.