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Africa’s debt is still under control – AfDB

14 Jun 2019, 11:16 am
Financial Nigeria
Africa’s debt is still under control – AfDB

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AfDB has, however, cautioned African countries to maintain debt sustainability.

African Development Bank's headquarters in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire

The African Development Bank (AfDB) has said despite rising debt levels on the continent, Africa’s debt has not increased to unsustainable levels. Hassatou Diop N'sele, AfDB’s Treasurer, stated this on Thursday at the ongoing 2019 Annual Meetings of the Boards of Governors of the African Development Bank Group, taking place in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea.

The bank, however, cautioned African countries to maintain debt sustainability. Simon Mizrahi, Director of Service Delivery, Performance Management and Results at the AfDB, said, “We need to continue to generate financing and spur growth without increasing debt.”

There have been concerns among policymakers and development finance institutions (DFIs) about debt sustainability in Africa. According to the Centre for the Study of the Economies of Africa (CSEA Africa), as of December 2018, 19 African countries had exceeded the 60 per cent debt-to-GDP threshold set by the African Monetary Co-operation Programme (AMCP) for developing economies, while 24 countries surpassed the 55 per cent debt-to-GDP ratio suggested by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

In April, the IMF projected Nigeria's debt-to-GDP ratio to rise to 25 per cent at full year 2018, from 21.1 per cent early last year. Total public debt stock rose from N12.6 trillion in 2015 to N24.38 trillion as of December 31, 2018, according to the country's Debt Management Office (DMO).

According to N'sele, a number of African countries could save as much $1 billion on a 20-year loan, if they borrow from the AfDB, instead of from the Eurobond market, due to preferable lending rates. African countries issued a record $27.1 billion in 2018 alone,
According to analysts at Renaissance Capital (RenCap), Africa’s Eurobond debt passed the $100-billion milestone after three countries — Egypt, Ghana and Benin — issued $7.6 billion Eurobond earlier this year. More countries, including Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, Angola, and Egypt are expected to issue Eurobonds in 2019. Eurobond issuers in Africa have increased from 10 countries in 2010 to 21 as of this year.

While presenting the bank's financial statements at the Annual Meetings, holding from 11-14 June, the Treasurer also said AfDB earned $214 million in allocable income in 2018, 48 per cent of which has been reinvested in the institution to reinforce its reserves and business growth. He said the bank remains strong with growing operating revenues and allocable income generated since 2010 reaching $2.5 billion.

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