What are World Bank guarantees?
World Bank guarantees significantly boost development outcomes by helping countries attract more private sector investments and financing than they would otherwise be able to, and go beyond what would be achievable with World Bank financing alone.
A World Bank guarantee is a financial instrument that covers a portion of a public entity’s liability, reducing the risk for acommercial lender or private investor and encouraging the mobilization of private capital in developing countries. By offering a partial coverage of the risks faced by the private sector, guarantees reduce the perceived level of risk of a potential investment.
World Bank guarantees are used in several ways:
- Support bankable projects through targeted de-risking
- Facilitate access to commercial finance on more favorable terms than achievable by a country on its own
- Mobilize larger and additional volumes of development capital than the Bank can provide by itself; and
- Aim to build a track record of credible policy and project performance for emerging market clients.
Why did the World Bank issue a policy-based guarantee to Ghana?
In 2015, Ghana was facing difficult market conditions. It had large financing needs, high debt levels that were maturing soon, and no access to international financial markets.
Refinancing deadlines, extending debt maturities to reduce fiscal pressure, and smoothing out its debt service profile were priorities for Ghana in 2015. Ghana’s Ministry of Finance sought help from the World Bank to meet these goals, and requested a policy-based guarantee in combination with a credit from the International Development Association (IDA – The World Bank’s fund for the poorest countries), to be able to mobilize the volume of financing needed to settle upcoming debt repayments.
A policy-based guarantee is an instrument that allows a country to raise money by mitigating the risk for bond investors or commercial lenders in case of potential debt service payment defaults. In this case, Ghana issued a $1 billion Eurobond series due in 2030. The 2030 Eurobond was backed by IDA's guarantee covering up to $400 million in both principal and interest. Since then, Ghana has bought back and canceled $70 million of the 2030 Eurobond, reducing the amount of the guarantee to $372 million.
Ghana applied the proceeds of the 2030 Eurobond issuance to refinance existing debt that had an interest rate of 25% to a lower rate of 10.75%. In addition, the maturity of the existing debt – which was between 90 days and two years – was increased to 15 years on average.
What is the current situation in Ghana?
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Ghana’s public debt increased significantly, leading to credit rating downgrades, the exit of non-resident investors from the domestic bond market, and ultimately Ghana’s loss of access to international capital markets. These adverse developments, further exacerbated by price and supply-chain shocks from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, have led to a large exchange rate depreciation, a surge in inflation, and pressure on foreign exchange reserves.
On December 19, 2022, faced with major economic, financial, and social pressures Ghana’s Ministry of Finance declared a moratorium on debt service payments under certain categories of its external debt, such as Eurobonds. Soon after, it restructured the bulk of its domestic debt and requested debt treatment under the G20 Common Framework.
What has been the IMF’s response?
You can learn more about the IMF’s response here: Key Questions on Ghana
What is happening with the policy-based guarantee in light of the current debt situation in Ghana?
In line with its debt moratorium announced on December 19, 2022, Ghana did not make its coupon payment due on April 14, 2023 and again on October 14, 2023 under the 2030 Eurobond. In accordance with its contractual obligations under the policy-based guarantee, IDA made its guarantee payment on April 20, 2023, and again on October 19, 2023.
Last Updated October 23, 2023.