Johannesburg - Nigeria, Kenya and Zambia, three of Africa's most dynamic economies, received their first sovereign ratings from the Moody's agency on Wednesday, handily beating Greece in the creditworthiness stakes.
Predicting African governments would increasingly turn to markets to fund public programmes, Moody's gave Nigeria the highest rating of the trio, at Ba3, just under investment grade.
The ratings judge how likely a country is to default on its debt and go a long way toward determining a government's cost of borrowing.
Kenya and Zambia were both assessed a B1, or highly speculative grade.
But that was still a higher rate than those given to some debt-stricken European nations such as Cyprus (B3) and Greece (C).
Nigeria's rating was equal to that of Portugal.
"Moody's believes the continent's growth will be characterized by increasing utilisation of international capital market finance," Jacques Els of Moody's South Africa said.
Spurred by strong domestic demand, foreign investment and mineral wealth, Africa's economies are now among the fastest growing in the world.