During a two-day International Hybrid Conference on Special Drawing Rights with the theme “Making Special Drawing Rights work for the People” held in Abuja, the Debt Management Office hosted the presentation of the paper titled “Debt Management, Restricting and Sustainability in ECOWAS.”
Speaking at the event, the Executive Director of ANEEJ, David Ugolor, highlighted the concerning figures, stating, “Statistics from the DMO shows that Nigeria’s public debt stood at N87,379,401.75 trillion as of 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.
Ugolor, represented by the Deputy Director of ANEEJ, Leo Atakpu, raised the issue of the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbating solvency and liquidity issues, leading to Sierra Leone’s debt being classified as having a high risk of debt distress.
Expressing distress, Atakpu stated, “The increasing focus on debt servicing obligations is quite concerning for civil society, as it comes at the expense of essential social services, climate initiatives, and other developmental needs.
“The escalating debt crisis poses a threat to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and meeting the targets of the Paris Climate Agreement in West Africa. This is particularly troubling considering that Nigeria has been identified as the world poverty capital in the 2023 World Poverty Clock report.
“Without prompt and significant measures taken by our governments and the international community, mounting debts may drive more Nigerians and West Africans into severe and multidimensional poverty.
Further, Atakpu mentioned that the conference would delve into the current discussions on reallocating SDRs to countries such as Ghana and Nigeria without exacerbating the existing debt crisis.
According to a report published by the Nigerian Economic Summit Group and the Open Society Initiative for West Africa, the other nations facing similar challenges include Benin Republic, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, the Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Niger, Senegal, and Togo.
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