The International Debt Statistics 2019, which was released early this month, is the World Bank’s compilation of statistics covering external debt and financial flows of 121 low and middle-income countries in the world.
It said, “In 2017, countries in Sub-Saharan Africa accumulated external debt at a faster pace than low and middle income countries in other regions. The combined external debt for Sub-Saharan Africa rose by 15.5 percent to $535 billion.
“This increase was driven by a sudden rise in borrowing by Africa’s two largest economies – Nigeria and South Africa. External debt for both countries rose by 29 percent and 21 percent respectively while for other Sub-Saharan countries, it rose by an average of 11 percent.”
International financial flows, comprising debt and equity, to low- and middle-income countries is said to have exceeded $1.1 trillion in 2017, a 61 percent increase from 2016.
Economic growth in Sub-Saharan Africa is said to have been eroded by this rise in external debt stocks. While the Gross National Income (GNI) of Sub-Saharan African countries (in US dollars) rose on an average of 23 percent between 2010 and 2017, its combined external debt stock is said to have risen far higher, by 90 percent over the same period.