* Investors have shown strong appetite for African debt
* Kenya plans to issue $1 bln after peaceful election
* BNP Paribas and Citi will arrange Rwanda’s issue
By Jenny Clover
KIGALI, April 16 (Reuters) - Rwanda will issue a debut $400 million debut Eurobond in the days ahead to raise funds for the retirement of short-term debt and complete strategic investments, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said on Tuesday.
Investors have lapped up sovereign bonds by African countries in recent years, thanks to fairly attractive yields and robust economic growth prospects at a time European economies struggle to shake off a persistent debt crisis.
Rwanda will be the first country in east Africa to issue a Eurobond. Kenya planned to borrow from the international market but postponed it repeatedly due to worries over the prospects of violence in polls held last month.
Officials in Nairobi say the government will issue the $1 billion bond this year after the election passed peacefully in contrast with last election five years ago that resulted in deadly post-election violence.
Rwanda had initially indicated that it would borrow $350 million.
The country’s ministry of finance confirmed on Twitter that it had mandated BNP Paribas and Citi to arrange the issue, with road shows set to start on April 18.
Fitch Ratings assigned the issue ‘B(EXP)’ rating in line with the country’s ‘B’ Long-term foreign currency Issuer Default rating with a stable outlook.
“Rwanda’s rating is supported by solid economic policies and a track record of structural reforms, macroeconomic stability and low government debt,” the ratings agency said.
“Rwanda will continue to attract significant budget support flows, reflecting its strong track record in poverty reduction and control of corruption.”
The country had a debt to GDP ratio of 23.3 percent last year, Fitch said. The IMF said in a statement it expected the economy to expand 7.5 percent this year, barely changed from its previous forecast of 7.6 percent.