Supporting the future of municipal bonds in sub-Saharan Africa: the centrality of enabling environments and regulatory frameworks

  • Jeremy Gorelick
  • Environment and Urbanization, February 2018, SAGE Publications
  • DOI: 10.1177/0956247817741853

The real reason why cities in sub-Saharan Africa are not issuing municipal bonds

What is it about?

To achieve the UN's Sustainable Development Goals, cities - particularly those in sub-Saharan Africa - need to be empowered to use a wider range of financial tools. Municipal bonds have proven to be a useful instrument to cover the cost of expensive infrastructure that has a long useful life in many other parts of the world. They have not been successfully introduced, however, across Africa due in part to the constitutional limitations imposed by central governments. The article reviews the ways that different cities faced their challenges, whether successfully or not, and highlights the importance of creating the right enabling conditions.

Why is it important?

The article shows that cities in countries with enabling constitutional conditions are likely to be able to launch bonds, which in turn helps them to meet their infrastructure needs, whereas cities without a sufficient enabling environment end up being constrained. This inhibits the ability of cities, and their respective national governments, to meet critical development needs.


Jeremy Gorelick
Johns Hopkins University

This article is borne out of the belief that cities should have sufficient autonomy to make important decisions about their financial futures, and is written with the emotions experienced by a practitioner who spent six years working on a municipal bond that was aborted at the last minute due to political and constitutional challenges by the national government.

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