GHANAIAN President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo (pictured) issued an urgent call for immediate economic relief, including the total cancellation of all debts owed by African countries, during his address on Tuesday at the Summit on Financing African Economies. Without the ‘fiscal room to breathe,’ Africa could truly become ‘the forgotten continent, and that is why there is urgent need for comprehensive debt relief and debt cancellation,’ said the President.
But it’s not entirely clear who the President was addressing specifically. It can’t have been the traditional lenders that make up the Paris Club, because they own only 6 percent of Africa’s debt. And he should probably know by now that China, which owns at least 21 percent of the continent’s outstanding debt, has made it clear that it has no plans to provide across-the-board debt cancellation in Africa or elsewhere in the Global South.
He is also probably aware that bondholders and other private creditors, like the Chinese, have been candid in telling African borrowers that Beijing will not consider any large-scale debt forgiveness. And even if some of the bond funds wanted to entertain the idea of cancelling African debts, fiduciary laws make it all but impossible.
The President also made an appeal ‘to restructure the global financial architecture so it can respond better to the needs of Africa’ and referenced the post-war Bretton Woods institutions as a precedent. However, he implied that countries like France and the United States have the power to actually restructure the system, when in our current multipolar reality the G7’s share of the global economy has been declining steadily.