A civil society organization, the African Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ), has sought relief for Nigeria and 10 other Economic Community of West African States (EXOWAS) countries currently in debt distress based on debt sustainability analysis.
According to a report by the Nigerian Economic Summit Group and the Open Society Initiative for West Africa, the 10 other countries are Benin, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, the Gambia, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Niger, Senegal, and Togo.
The report, titled ‘Debt Management, Restricting and Sustainability in ECOWAS’, was launched at the Debt Management Office (DMO) in Abuja.
Speaking Monday in Abuja during a two-day International Hybrid Conference on Special Drawing Rights (SDRs), with the theme; “Making Special Drawing Rights work for the people,” Rev. David Ugolor, Executive Director of ANEEJ, said it was disturbing that most of the countries’ revenues are now being channeled to debt servicing obligations.
Ugolor, represented by Mr Leo Atakpu, Deputy Director of ANEEJ, said: “Statistics from the DMO shows that Nigeria’s public debt stood at N87,379,401.75 trillion as at June 30 2023 and in the same vein, Ghana’s public debt stock rose to 569.3 billion cedis ($49.7 billion) at the end of April, 2023, according to figures obtained from the Bank of Ghana. Sierra Leone’s debt is classified as being at high risk of debt distress, largely due to heightened solvency and liquidity risks arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“For us in Civil Society, this is quite disturbing because most of our countries’ revenues are now being channeled to debt servicing obligations at the peril of basic social services, climate and other development exigencies.
“The debt crisis imperils the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals and achievement of the Paris Climate Agreement in West Africa. This becomes even more worrisome when viewed against the backdrop that Nigeria remains the world poverty capital as designated by the World Poverty Clock report of 2023.
“It means debt will drive more Nigerians and indeed, West Africans into extreme and multidimensional poverty if urgent and drastic steps are not taken by our governments and the international community.”
He said the conference would review the utilization of SDRs in Nigeria and Ghana “as well as take a deep dive into current debates around SDR reallocation to countries in most need such as Nigeria and Ghana without having to exacerbate the debt crisis.”