long-term financing is increasing so there is the need for international debt issuance,' analyst Matthew Pirnie told Reuters on Thursday. 'The appetite is definitely there.' Bond issues could be up to $500 million in Nigeria, he said, while in small African countries they were likely to be smaller and around $200 million.
He would not say if the agency had been approached to issue ratings for other African banks.
Investor interest was likely to be strong despite trouble in global markets, he said, with many keen to tap good growth in Africa's strongest economies, particularly the continent's largest oil producer Nigeria.
'The market fundamentals are very good in Nigeria,' he said.
'The banking sector is looking incredibly strong. As the economy booms and the private sector widens, there's a lot of opportunity.' Emerging funds are increasingly targeting Africa, aiming to take advantage of growth predicted by the International Monetary Fund to only fall marginally this year to 6.5 percent despite a global slowdown.
While political risk was high across Africa - as evidenced by Kenya's largely unpredicted sudden slide into violence after disputed elections in December - corporate governance was improving, he said.
'The big banks in Nigeria are so worried about the perception of corporate governance that their risk management processes are very good,' he said.
'They often don't lend to the government because it is seen as so untransparent.' As well as issuing local and foreign currency bonds, he said he expected most major Nigerian banks to launch micro-finance arms, taking deposits from the very poorest as another way of boosting growth and cash.
Ghana - which issued a sovereign Eurobond last year - was the likely next location for bank bond issues and ratings, he said, followed by Kenya as peace and confidence returned.
'Kenya is looking less good at the moment but I think appetite will return and in a year's time (the violence) will be old news,' he said. Further down the line, he said the next countries to see issues from banks would likely include Mauritius, Namibia, Botswana and possibly large state-backed banks in countries such as Ethiopia, Mali, Benin or Angola.
'The private banks are likely to come first because they are more ambitious,' he said. 'Being state-controlled gives banks other options and they tend to be less ambitious than independent banks.'