ACCRA/LONDON - Ghana has sent a debt restructuring proposal to its official creditors, two sources with direct knowledge of the matter said, as the West African country battles to escape its worst economic crisis in a generation.

The "working proposal" is a crucial first step for the cocoa, gold and oil producer to engage the official creditor committee after its formation in May and is not legally binding, one of the sources said.

It marks the opening of a more detailed negotiating process that will likely see a number of proposals being exchanged.

Ghana intends to finish restructuring its domestic debt before turning to negotiations with its official, bilateral creditors and international bondholders, a government official said.

The sources did not confirm the details of the proposal or the date on which it was sent. A spokesperson for Ghana's finance ministry did not immediately comment.

Ghana aims to cut $10.5 billion in interest payments on its external debt over the next three years to successfully implement a $3 billion loan deal from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Its debts to countries including China and members of the Paris Club of creditor nations were $5.4 billion of the $20 billion external debt due for restructuring, as of the end of a 2022, according to a government presentation to investors. The total external debt stock was about $30 billion.

Ghana completed a domestic debt exchange with 65% of holders of local bonds in February and is also seeking relief on the bulk of the remainder of its domestic debt, including deals with pension funds, labour unions and independent power producers.

It is restructuring its debt under the Common Framework process, set up by the G20 in 2020 to bring China and other newer creditor nations into joint sovereign debt restructuring negotiations, for its external debt rework.

An IMF team will visit Ghana from June 8 to 15 as part of its regular engagement under the $3 billion loan programme, an IMF spokesperson said on Wednesday, adding that the first formal review of the programme will happen in the coming months.

(Reporting by Maxwell Akalaare Adombila and Jorgelina do Rosario, Writing by Rachel Savage, Editing by Karin Strohecker, Nick Macfie and Toby Chopra)