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The Continent’s Inaugural Afraican Conference on Debt and Development (AfCoDD)

The African Forum and Network on Debt and Development (AFRODAD) in collaboration with its Pan-African Civil Society Organisations, and national and international partners, is organising an inaugural African Conference on Debt and Development (AfCoDD). The forum will be held on 25th– 27th August, 2021

AfCoDD comes at an unprecedented time when many African countries face the prospects of deep and protracted economic and social crisis. This especially in view of the recent decisions on the IMF’s Special Drawing Rights issuance and the G20’s Common Framework. 

The challenges posed by the global pandemic have again exposed weaknesses of the international financial system and increasing already existing vulnerabilities of developing countries to unsustainable borrowing. 

The prolonged global pandemic is leading to an economic and social crisis that is plunging Africa into its first economic recession in nearly three decades and with it accelerated a debt crisis that leading to a reversal in social development and exacerbating inequality. And while many developing countries were already facing crisis before the pandemic, the nature of developing country debt is far more complex than in the past, with a new landscape that poses greater risks. An increasing share of public debt is now composed of commercial bonds traded on international capital markets. In recent years, the official creditor landscape has changed considerably. Since the HIPC initiative, financing from Paris Club creditors to low-income countries (LICs) has increasingly taken the form of debt relief or grants, rather than debt-creating loans. The share of total sub-Saharan African states’ public debt held by non-Paris Club creditors doubled between 2007-2016, from 17% to 40%, while the share of Paris Club bilateral debt fell from 53% to 7%.

In the light of these challenges, there is a need for a ‘New Debt movement’ and new outlook to issues of domestic resource mobilisation and international development finance mechanisms in the African continent. This new direction is further justified by the evolving context of covid-19 pandemic and other unexpected shocks that have exposed the weaknesses of the international financial system and increased the vulnerabilities of developing countries to unsustainable borrowing to cope with current challenges. 

Thus, the aim of the conference is to bring together African leaders from different spheres of influence and shape the Africa we want post pandemic under the banner, “build forward together”. 

The conference will bring together for the first time African and international political, technical, and civic leaders to mobilise and strengthen a concerted African approach to address the current debt crisis. The conference seeks to shape political and public mobilisation on a Common African Position on debt anchored AFRODAD’s African Borrowing Charter that enhances debt transparency, accountability, and governance.

Objectives

The objectives of AfCoDD are:

  1. Political mobilisation on a Common African Position on debt anchored in the African Borrowing Charter;
  2. Contributing to Pan-African Ideation on public debt – Academic and Research interrogation of debt in Africa from a political, economic, and social drivers’ perspective; and
  3. Citizen mobilisation on public debt linked to strengthened transparency, accountability, and governance (TAG).

Conference Pillars

AfCoDD will have three pillars:

  • Political – This pillar will focus on Africa’s engagement and role in the current debt architecture as a rule take, and look into building a new political consensus for a new debt architecture where it is a rule maker. 
  • Research and Ideation – This pillar is about contributing to the Pan-African knowledge and intellectual perspectives of debt, development finance, and structural transformation of Africa. 
  • Public Mobilisation – This pillar is about national civic movement building in a sustained manner beyond the current debt crisis. It will be anchored on the African Borrowing Charter as a commitment to actively participate in national debt dialogues, and call for greater transparency, accountability, and governance on public debt matters.

Format

The AfCoDD will be delivered in a hybrid format combining both virtual and physical sessions. 

Timelines

The AfCoDD will be held over 3 days in August 2021 and will be delivered as hybrid physical and virtual conference. The physical conference will mainly comprise of national events. The virtual will cover the Political and Ideation pillars of the conference. 

Register for AfCoDD at www.afrodad.org

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