- ANEEJ calls for debt relief for Nigeria and ten other ECOWAS countries facing debt distress, citing impact on development goals
- Rev. David Ugolor expresses concern over rising public debts in Nigeria, Ghana, and Sierra Leone, impacting social services and climate initiatives
The African Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ), a civil society organization, is advocating for debt relief for Nigeria and ten other Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) countries currently facing debt distress. The call comes in the wake of a debt sustainability analysis conducted by the Nigerian Economic Summit Group and the Open Society Initiative for West Africa.
The ten countries identified in the report are Benin, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, the Gambia, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Niger, Senegal, and Togo. The report, titled ‘Debt Management, Restructuring, and Sustainability in ECOWAS,’ was launched at the Debt Management Office (DMO) in Abuja.
Speaking at the International Hybrid Conference on Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) in Abuja, Rev. David Ugolor, Executive Director of ANEEJ, expressed concern over the fact that a significant portion of these countries’ revenues is being directed towards debt servicing obligations. Ugolor emphasized the impact on basic social services, climate initiatives, and overall development goals.
Citing statistics from the DMO, Ugolor highlighted Nigeria’s public debt, which stood at N87.38 trillion as of June 30, 2023. He also pointed out Ghana’s rising public debt stock and Sierra Leone’s debt classified as high risk due to challenges arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ugolor underscored the gravity of the situation, stating, “The debt crisis imperils the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals and achievement of the Paris Climate Agreement in West Africa.” He expressed concern that without urgent and drastic measures, the debt burden could lead to increased poverty, particularly in Nigeria, which is designated as the world’s poverty capital.
The conference aims to review the utilization of Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) in Nigeria and Ghana and delve into current debates surrounding SDR reallocation to countries in dire need, such as Nigeria and Ghana, without exacerbating the existing debt crisis.