Africa's debt to stay above pre-pandemic levels through 2025, UN official says

28th February 2024

By: Reuters


Font size: - +

Africa's public debt will stay above pre-pandemic levels in 2024 and 2025, with many countries still at risk of falling into debt distress as they continue to struggle to service international loans, a United Nations (UN) official said on Wednesday.

Addressing a United Nations Commission for Africa (UNECA) conference in Victoria Falls, the agency's macroeconomics and governance director Adam Elhiraika said eight countries were in debt distress, while 13 were "expected to be at risk of debt distress".

Africa has been hit by repeated economic shocks since 2020, from the Covid-19 pandemic to Russia's invasion of Ukraine and rising US interest rates, putting cash-strapped, debt-laden governments in a political and fiscal bind.

"Debt will (stay) above the pre-pandemic level. This is huge," Elhiraika said, adding that the continent's debt-to-GDP ratio was 62.5% at the end of 2022.

This ratio doubled to 57% in the decade to 2020 and could rise 10 percentage points in the next five years if Africa's fiscal trajectory does not change, according to a recent International Monetary Fund (IMF) report.

"There is need for African countries to work with international partners to address debt distress," Elhiraika said.

Africa's fiscal deficit deteriorated to 4.6% of GDP last year, Elhiraika said, without citing previous years' figures, and is set to widen further to 5% in 2024.

Many African governments are having to slash spending, while interest payments are growing faster.

Zimbabwe Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube called for a rethink of the global financial system.

"Access to finance for Africa must be made cheaper and easier. Hence, there is a need to re-look at the international financial architecture to ensure that it is fit for purpose," Ncube said, addressing the conference.

Zambia became the first African nation to default on its debt in late 2020, during the Covid-19 pandemic. Ghana followed in 2022, while Ethiopia became the latest last December.

Edited by Reuters



Booyco Electronics
Booyco Electronics

Booyco Electronics, South African pioneer of Proximity Detection Systems, offers safety solutions for underground and surface mining, quarrying,...

Weir Minerals Africa and Middle East
Weir Minerals Africa and Middle East

Weir Minerals Europe, Middle East and Africa is a global supplier of excellent minerals solutions, including pumps, valves, hydrocyclones,...


Latest Multimedia

sponsored by

Photo of Martin Creamer
On-The-Air (12/04/2024)
12th April 2024 By: Martin Creamer

Option 1 (equivalent of R125 a month):

Receive a weekly copy of Creamer Media's Engineering News & Mining Weekly magazine
(print copy for those in South Africa and e-magazine for those outside of South Africa)
Receive daily email newsletters
Access to full search results
Access archive of magazine back copies
Access to Projects in Progress
Access to ONE Research Report of your choice in PDF format

Option 2 (equivalent of R375 a month):

All benefits from Option 1
Access to Creamer Media's Research Channel Africa for ALL Research Reports, in PDF format, on various industrial and mining sectors including Electricity; Water; Energy Transition; Hydrogen; Roads, Rail and Ports; Coal; Gold; Platinum; Battery Metals; etc.

Already a subscriber?

Forgotten your password?







sq:0.092 0.152s - 163pq - 2rq
Subscribe Now