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African nations need political awakening to tackle the debt issue


Adebayo Olukoshi, a professor of governance at the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa, has challenged African leaders to respond to the call for a strong political will to lift their countries out of the cyclical debt situation.

According to a 2023 report by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), more than half of Sub-Saharan Africa’s low-income countries are at high risk or already in debt distress.

The report also revealed that the debt ratios of most Sub-Saharan African countries had increased from an average of 30 per cent in 2013 to nearly 60 per cent in 2022.

Currently, Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Nigeria, Zambia, and other African countries are implementing various loan-support programmes with the IMF and going through a debt restructuring process.

However, Prof Olukoshi emphasised that Africa would require a local political awakening to overcome the debt problem and put the continent on the path of debt sustainability and economic stability.

He made the remarks during a media interview on the
sidelines of a three-day conference in Accra on Africa’s debt crisis and international financial architecture reform on Wednesday.

The International Development Economics Associates (IDEAs) is organising the conference in collaboration with the African Forum and Network on Debt and Development (AFRODAD) and the Ghanaian government.

‘It’s important that we break this cycle, and the starting point is political awakening; an awakening that provides a framework in which leadership vision can then be developed,’ he said.

Prof Olukoshi stated that Africa, as the world’s most endowed continent in terms of human and natural resources, should stop ‘going around with a begging bowl from one generation to the other.’

‘If we [Africa] wake up to the realisation that enough is enough, and that we cannot continue with this cycle, then we can begin to take the necessary measures to break the structures of dependence,’ he said.

According to Prof. Olukoshi, median exports from Africa to the rest of the world amounted to m
ore than US$60 billion, including nurses and doctors, while others cross the Sahel and Mediterranean ‘only to go and pick fruits in foreign countries.’

 ‘Why do you continue to produce raw materials which you don’t process, export more capital from Africa to the rest of the world and go begging? he quizzed.

He underscored the need for the continent to increase productivity and regulate its export of human resources and raw materials to the rest of the world.

Mr Charles Abugre, Executive Director of IDEAs, noted that it had only been 20 years since the Multilateral Debt Relief initiative ended, and many African countries are now facing debt crises.

The solution to the challenges, he said, was largely dependent on good political and bureaucratic leadership, which the three-day conference would emphasise.

The conference would, therefore, provide a platform to learn from the past, determine how best to restructure debt to prevent insolvency and develop alternatives to external loan support programmes on debt
sustainability.

This would be done through panel and roundtable discussions among political scientists, academics, economists, policymakers, and civil society organizations (CSOs).

Source: Ghana News Agency