The Economist reports:

. . . over the next few years, four Sub-Saharan countries—Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and Zambia—are expected to issue sovereign bonds in international markets for the first time.

I’m tempted to ask which of these countries is not like the other. What struck me about this sign of economic development is that only one of these four, Nigeria, is an oil producing country.

For a bit more context, here is the expanded quote:

Africa’s financial markets are, at long last, becoming globalised. Low interest rates and saturated financial markets in OECD economies are pushing developed-world investors to look further afield, while the strengthening of African balance sheets (as a result of debt relief), underpinned by booming commodity export earnings and improved macroeconomic management, are making Sub-Saharan markets more enticing. The combination of “push” and “pull” factors is such that, over the next few years, four Sub-Saharan countries—Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and Zambia—are expected to issue sovereign bonds in international markets for the first time.

Perceived risk in African markets has declined dramatically since 2000.

It does not look like oil is doing much financial good for the countries that do own it. Although some people and some parts of Nigeria are doing well, the part that produces the oil, the Niger Delta, is in appalling shape. And there is nothing about the US Africa Command, the US government’s principal approach to Africa, likely to address the heart of the problem, despite the honeyed words of diplomacy and aid.

As Paul Salopek said in the Chicago Tribune:

The planet’s last superpower is rattling its half-empty oilcan at the poorest continent in the world.
. . .
Americans already get more oil from Africa than from Saudi Arabia.
. . .
“I think the U.S. military would find our swamps worse than Iraq,” snorted Austin Onuoha, a Nigerian human-rights activist who specializes in oil issues. “But at least they might build some infrastructure after they invade. Americans always do this, right?”

Onuoha’s sarcasm was well-earned. He was talking in the dark, from his blacked-out house in the oil-rich Niger Delta. The electricity in Africa’s petro-giant had winked out again. And this fit sourly into his main thesis: Oil is rotting Africa’s frail democracies. (emphasis mine)