A civil society organization, the Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ), has raised concerns about the escalating debt burden in Nigeria and other West African countries. The organization highlighted that a substantial portion of these nations’ resources is allocated to servicing debts, posing a threat to social services, climate initiatives, and overall development.
During a presentation at the Debt Management Office in Abuja, the paper titled “Debt Management, Restructuring, and Sustainability in ECOWAS” was discussed. The Executive Director of ANEEJ, David Ugolor, expressed distress over the situation during the International Hybrid Conference on Special Drawing Rights held in Abuja.
Ugolor, represented by ANEEJ’s Deputy Director, Leo Atakpu, cited statistics from Nigeria’s Debt Management Office, revealing that the country’s public debt had reached N87,379,401.75 trillion as of June 30, 2023. Additionally, Ghana’s public debt was reported to have surged to 569.3 billion cedis ($49.7 billion) by the end of April 2023, according to data from the Bank of Ghana.
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic was emphasized, with solvency and liquidity issues contributing to Sierra Leone’s debt being categorized as high risk. ANEEJ stressed that this debt crisis jeopardizes the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement in West Africa.
The organization expressed concern that the increasing debt burden could lead to more people in Nigeria and West Africa falling into extreme poverty. The urgent need for drastic steps by governments and the international community was emphasized to address this looming crisis.
A joint report by the Nigerian Economic Summit Group and the Open Society Initiative for West Africa highlighted that Benin Republic, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, the Gambia, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Niger, Senegal, and Togo are also facing similar challenges related to rising debt.