Financial future: Is it time to cancel Africa’s debts?
It’s estimated that 60% of low-income countries struggle to pay their debt. That’s up from 40% in 2018, before the pandemic and a rise in food and fuel costs. The burden of these sovereign debts mean that many countries are forced to make deep budget cuts, limiting their ability to invest in domestic development projects like healthcare, education and infrastructure.
One proposed solution is debt relief—essentially wiping the slate clean—but it doesn’t come without drawbacks. Critics argue that its long-term consequences include making future investments in the country less appealing. Proponents say that paying off debt should never come at the expense of human needs like education and healthcare.
Doha Debates welcomes Heidi Chow, the executive director of the UK-based nonprofit Debt Justice, and Bright Simons, policy analyst at the Ghana-based Imani Center for Policy and Education, to discuss this topic.