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Decade after debt relief, Africa’s rush to borrow stirs concern

Posted by Business in Ghana on March 22, 2014

BY TOSIN SULAIMAN, JOHANNESBURG

(Reuters) – Nearly a decade after Nelson Mandela and anti-poverty activists Bono and Bob Geldof persuaded the rich world to forgive Africa’s crushing debts, many countries’ debt levels are creeping up again, which could undermine the region’s growth boom.  As African states line up to join the growing club of dollar bond issuers, economists and analysts warn of a slide back into indebtedness that could undo recent economic gains and create a “Eurobond curse” to match the distorting “resource curse”.  “Eurobonds have become like stock exchanges, private jets and presidential palaces.  Every African leader wants to have one,” said one investor, asking not to be named.

In 2007, Ghana became the first African beneficiary of debt relief to tap international capital markets, issuing a $750 million 10-year Eurobond.  Since then, previously debt-burdened countries, such as Senegal, Nigeria, Zambia and Rwanda, have also put their names on the list of bond issuers.  Governments seeking to replace declining foreign aid and pay for infrastructure are also taking concessional funds from multilateral institutions, more expensive commercial bank loans and bilateral financing from lenders like China and Brazil. Read the rest of this entry »

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