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Where Credit is Due: How Africa’s Debt Can Be a Benefit, Not a Burden

Where credit is due How african's debt can be a benefits not a burdenGreg Smith’s latest book delves into the complex landscape of government-issued sovereign debt in Africa, offering invaluable insights and policy recommendations to help African governments harness debt as a catalyst for development. Smith’s extensive research, coupled with his firsthand experience as an economist and emerging markets fund manager, provides a comprehensive overview of historical trends and contemporary challenges surrounding sovereign debt in Africa.

The book takes a holistic approach, covering all African countries without segregating sub-Saharan Africa, aiming to identify common trends while acknowledging the diversity among nations. Each chapter is meticulously crafted, featuring in-depth analyses and two country case studies to illustrate the varied situations across the continent.

Drawing on his wealth of expertise and global perspective, Smith emphasizes the potential benefits of debt financing for governments and their populations. He highlights how debt can be effectively utilized to balance economic cycles, catalyze investment in vital public infrastructure projects, and drive sustainable development. However, Smith also candidly addresses the pitfalls associated with debt misuse, including the perpetuation of government spending, evasion of necessary reforms, and the funding of opaque and corruption-ridden projects.

Published by Hurst in the UK and soon to be available via Oxford University Press in the USA, Smith’s book is meticulously updated to reflect the profound impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Africa’s borrowing landscape. It navigates through the complexities of sovereign debt defaults and examines the evolving nature of debt composition, all while shedding light on the challenges of mobilizing private capital and meeting ambitious development goals, such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and climate change mitigation efforts.

Endorsed by prominent figures such as former President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria and Chairperson of the African Union, the book has garnered praise for its insightful analysis and practical policy prescriptions. Obasanjo lauds Smith’s work for its comprehensive examination of African debt dynamics, underscoring its importance for policymakers, investors, researchers, and economists alike.

Alex Vines OBE, Director of the Africa Programme at Chatham House, and Assistant Professor at Coventry University, hails Smith’s book as a critical resource for navigating the current debt crisis and seizing opportunities for post-COVID-19 economic recovery. Vines emphasizes the book’s relevance in fostering innovative approaches to scale up investment and achieve sustainable development goals across the continent.

In essence, Smith’s book serves as an indispensable guide for understanding the intricacies of Africa’s debt landscape, offering pragmatic insights and actionable recommendations to steer policymakers and stakeholders towards a more prosperous and sustainable future.

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