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Africa’s growing debt plunges countries into anxiety

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By JAMES ANYANZWA

Africa’s growing debt accumulation has pushed several countries into debt anxiety with fears that many governments will not be able to enter international capital markets for more funding, according to a new report from the African Development Bank (AfDB). ).

African Economic Outlook, 2021, entitled From growing debt settlement: the way forward for Africa shows that by December 2020, 14 of the 38 countries for which debt sustainability analyzes are available were rated at high risk of debt distress while another six were already in debt distress.

The report shows that 16 countries have a moderate risk of debt distress, while two are considered low risk, as many of them lose access to international capital markets by falling debt sustainability ratings.

Safety margins are being eroded by Covid-19 as costs rise and revenues fall. Moreover, the decline in credit rating is likely to occur for many countries in the medium to medium term.

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An estimated 30 million Africans were pushed into extreme poverty in 2020 as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, and an estimated 39 million Africans could fall into extreme poverty by 2021.

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Women and women heads of households can represent a large proportion of the newly arrived poor.

Debt accumulation is projected to accelerate rapidly from the combined effect of rising public spending and shrinking GDP and revenues.

A decomposition of debt dynamics in Africa shows that debt accumulation has been driven by exchange rate depreciation, rising interest costs, high primary deficits, poor governance, weak institutions, ambitious public investment programs, and rising spending related to protection.

Other emerging weaknesses include loss of access to international capital markets as a result of deteriorating debt sustainability assessments, rapidly rising interest expenses as part of income, return risks due to shorter debt maturities , expanding contingent liabilities and limited transparency of debt collateralization, the report says.

This recovery predicted by the worst recession in more than half a century will be supported by the resumption of tourism, a return to commodity prices and the restoration of restrictions caused by the virus.

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