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African Countries Outperform USA and Japan in Public Debt Management, Report Shows

Thursday, 27 June 2024 17:24
African Countries Outperform USA and Japan in Public Debt Management, Report Shows

(Ecofin Agency) - A recent report by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation reveals that 50 African countries have lower debt-to-GDP ratios than both Japan and the United States.

Based on evaluations by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the report highlights that out of the 52 African countries with available data, only two exceed Japan’s debt-to-GDP ratio of 254.6% and the USA’s 123.3%. Sudan holds the highest global debt ratio at 280.3%, followed by Eritrea at 207%.

The average debt-to-GDP ratio across the continent stands at 68.6% for 2024, according to IMF data. Titled "Financing Africa: Where is the money?", the report identifies 28 African countries as being in "debt crisis" as of 2022, categorized by Debt Justice, a British NGO. This classification encompasses countries where debt repayment undermines the economy, using criteria such as the debt service cost relative to state revenues and exports.

In contrast, the IMF identifies only eight African countries in debt distress: Republic of Congo, Ghana, Malawi, São Tomé and Príncipe, Somalia, Sudan, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. This distinction arises from differing definitions of debt crisis and criteria for assessing debt sustainability.

Despite these discrepancies, the report underscores that the cost of servicing Africa’s external debt as a percentage of public expenditure has more than tripled over the past fifteen years, rising from -4% in 2009 to over 12% in 2024.

Fifteen African countries currently rank in the top 20 globally for the highest ratio of external debt service to public revenue. These include Angola (62.7%), Zambia (42.2%), Egypt (39.9%), Djibouti (38.9%), Tunisia (30.9%), and Benin (27.7%). Consequently, between 2019 and 2021, 25 African countries allocated more public resources to servicing debt interest than to healthcare expenditures.




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ECOFIN AGENCY offers a selection of articles translated from AGENCE ECOFIN. Founded in 2011, Agence Ecofin is a leader in Francophone Pan-African economic news, particularly in West and Central Africa. The agency publishes daily news on nine African economic sectors: Public Management, Finance, ICT, Agribusiness, Energy, Mining, Transport & Logistics, Communication, and Training.

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