n African Renaissance - In whose debt? Debt cancellation and democracy in Africa - : Africa and the world

Volume 2, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 1744-2532
  • E-ISSN: 2516-5305


The cancellation of African debt is a necessary condition for the continent's growth and development. But it is hardly sufficient. If writing off debt is to trigger economic and social progress which benefits the poor, democratisation is as essential as the elimination of debt. The announcement by G-8 Finance ministers of their intention to cancel the debt of 14 African countries, with another nine possibly becoming eligible within the year, has prompted inevitably heated debate between the economic 'mainstream', which has welcomed the decision, and a range of leftwing and social justice movements who have rejected it as a cosmetic exercise which maintains the North's stranglehold on African economies. But, amid the heated polemic, both sides agree that writing off the debt would in itself open new possibilities for African growth and poverty reduction. This apparently automatic link between scrapping the debt and ensuring a platform for increased living standards for the continent's people is, however, not as self-evident as the debate seems to assume.

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