Stacey Owusu-Ansah, Analyst, Debt Capital Markets - Stanbic Bank Ghana

Within the dynamic landscape of finance, where countless prospects arise at every juncture, one instrument stands out for its appeal and efficiency – Commercial Paper (or “CP”) Notes.

In Ghana, CP is a relatively uncommon financial instrument, although it has been growing in popularity in recent years. This development can be attributed to a number of factors, including the increasing demand for short-term financing by Ghanaian businesses, the relatively low cost of CPs, and less stringent approach to its issuance processes.

Although still nascent (i.e., only a few private CP programmes in place), the Ghanaian CP market has proven to provide businesses with a practical, convenient and cost-effective means of raising short-term funding. With its straightforward appeal and tangible benefits, CP has firmly integrated itself into the core of the Ghanaian financial landscape. In this article, we explore the key aspects of Commercial Paper, examining its role as a practical means of raising funds in Ghana and addressing short-term financing needs.

Commercial Paper is ideal for fulfilling temporary cash flow gaps, meeting working capital needs, and addressing immediate financial obligations. CPs give the impression of a financial pit-stop, where companies can swiftly refuel their cash flow reserves and maintain a competitive edge in the business race. CP maturities typically range from a few days (typically 15) to 270 days, and are usually unsecured, i.e., not backed by any collateral. Instead, it relies solely on the issuer’s creditworthiness and reputation – and therein lies the catch! Commercial Paper is predominantly issued by well-established companies, financial institutions, and public sector entities with strong credit ratings, although lower-rated borrowers have also tapped the market, often after arranging credit support from a higher-rated company. As a result, this feature guarantees investors a comparatively low level of risk and further elevates the appeal of CP as a favoured investment choice. Like most instruments, CPs can be bought and sold in the secondary market before maturity, enabling investors to liquidate their investments and access funds when needed. In Ghana, there is currently no formal framework or market environment facilitating the issuance and trading of CPs. However, there is currently an ongoing initiative to formalise market regulation and governance for Commercial Paper, and this carries the support of Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Bank of Ghana (BoG). The new framework, when implemented, would ensure the transparent and secure execution of CP transactions, safeguarding the interests of both issuers and investors.

Now, undoubtedly, the benefits of Commercial Paper in Ghana are manifold, making it a favoured financial instrument among businesses and investors alike, but let us unpack 4 of these key benefits:

Diversified Funding Source

Corporations and financial institutions view CPs as an alternative means of obtaining funds compared to bank loans. When businesses have access to multiple avenues for raising funds, it allows them to spread out their borrowing sources and not solely rely on a single channel, such as bank loans. This diversification comes in handy to 1) reduce reliance on traditional banking channels, especially during periods when banks may have stricter lending criteria or when there is a need to explore other sources of funding; 2) offer flexibility to customize and negotiate funding terms such as the amount and tenor of the borrowing to suit the business’ specific short-term funding requirements; and 3) diversify overall financial risk.


Finance managers are particularly keen on this point. The fact is that issuing CPs can indeed prove to be a more cost-effective financing option compared to obtaining a bank loan or issuing long-term debt. This cost-effectiveness, in sooth, distinguishes CPs from other forms of short-term financing. Through CPs, issuers are able to explore: 1) lowering underwriting fees, as the issuance process is more streamlined and involves fewer intermediaries, compared to arranging long-term debt (or bonds) which feature slightly higher administrative expenses and transaction costs; 2) competitive interest rates, especially when the issuer has a strong credit rating, allowing the issuer to negotiate favourable terms of issue; 3) zero (or almost zero) collateral requirements which eliminate the need to spend on evaluation processes to secure assets to back the financing, as is often required for bank loans; and 4) avoiding long-term commitments of higher interest-bearing instruments.

Improved Liquidity Management

Liquidity Management, in essence, is connected to the backbone of a business’ success story. CPs play a significant role in enhancing liquidity management for businesses, offering them the means to optimize their cash flow and ensure financial stability. By issuing CPs, businesses are able to quickly access funds from the capital markets to address immediate and specific cash flow problems. Notwithstanding this, businesses often use CPs as a steady flow of financing to run the day-to-day operations and manage cashflow cycles.

Enhances Financial Market Efficiency

The presence of a vibrant CP market provides an additional avenue for investors to deploy their funds. By increasing the variety of investment opportunities, the CP market boosts overall market liquidity, making it easier for investors to buy and sell financial instruments promptly. As an addition, an active CP market facilitates efficient price discovery for investors to readily assess prevailing market prices, thereby enabling them to make well-informed investment decisions. This price discovery is an amalgamation of ensuring fair financing terms for issuers, flexibility to enter and exit the market and a well-functioning investor universe. It is all-encompassing, because from this, the market becomes more and more transparent, necessitating an adherence to strict regulatory guidelines and compliance with broader global modalities.

In summary, Commercial Paper in Ghana is emerging as a compelling financial force, leveraging its practicality to transform short-term financing. Its diverse benefits support businesses to navigate financial challenges effortlessly. For investors, the prospects of higher returns and liquidity is the value-add, making it an appealing addition to their financial toolkit. As Ghana’s financial landscape continues to evolve, CP remains an unwavering catalyst, driving economic growth, promoting transparency, and enhancing financial market efficiency.

By Stacey Owusu-Ansah, Analyst, Debt Capital Markets – Stanbic Bank Ghana

Source: Ghana/