Africa’s total debt hits $1.3 trillion, expected to rise in 2023: AfDB’s president

Doaa A.Moneim , Tuesday 18 Jul 2023

Africa's total debt stock is estimated at $1.3 trillion, and the cost of debt reached $22 billion in 2022, with expectations that it will further increase in 2023, Akinwumi Adesina, president of the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group, said on Monday.

Children suffering dire drought across parts of Africa are one disease away from catastrophe. (Photo: UNICEF)


Adesina made these statements during his speech at the fifth Mid-Year Coordination Meeting of the African Union (AU) held in Nairobi, Kenya.

Addressing the serious issue of the continent's debt levels, Adesina emphasized the need for all International Financial Institutions (IFIs) to tackle this challenge. He called for a change in Africa's approach to debt and advocated for an end to all natural resource-backed loans, stating that "they are non-transparent, undervalue resource assets, and put national assets at risk.”

Adesina also pointed out that such loans had led to "predatory creditor lending practices that are leaving borrowing countries worse off."

Regarding debt relief efforts, Adesina mentioned the Common Framework, which coordinates debt reprofiling and restructuring by official and private creditors. The G20, including non-Paris Club member lenders like mainland China, India, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Turkey, launched this initiative to ensure fair burden-sharing across all creditors. Chad, Ethiopia, and Zambia have already requested debt relief under the Common Framework.

Food insecurity

The AfDB president also spoke about food insecurity on the continent, which has been compounded by global difficulties.

He pointed out that the bank mobilized $72 billion to implement food and agriculture delivery compacts developed during the Dakar2 summit held in Senegal earlier this year.

Adesina also highlighted the outcome of the $1.5 billion emergency food production facility launched by the bank in May 2022, in response to the Russian-Ukraine war. The conflict resulted in a significant hike in wheat and maize prices globally, threatening a food crisis in Africa.

Up to 44 African countries are benefiting from the facility, which is supporting 20 million farmers across the continent to produce 38 million metric tons of food, according to Adesina.

Adesina also highlighted the impact of the 16th replenishment of the African Development Fund – the AfDB’s concessional window for Africa’s low-income countries – which mobilized $8.9 billion for Africa's low-income countries in 2022. This makes it the highest replenishment since the fund was established in 1972. Additionally, a special Climate Action Window was created to support climate resilience in low-income and fragile states, with the bank mobilizing $429 million.

The AfDB is currently collaborating with Egypt to alleviate the impact of the war in Ukraine on the country's food security and agriculture, including funding water projects.

The AfDB Group is a crucial catalyst for the water projects Egypt is implementing through its Nexus of Water, Food, and Energy (NWFE) platform. This platform aims to mobilize climate finance and attract private investments from various international financing institutions to expedite national climate initiatives

Egypt hosted the 58th Annual Meetings of the AfDB’s Board of Governors and the 49th Meetings of the Board of Governors of the African Development Fund in Sharm El-Sheikh last May

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