Africa’s rising debt

5 - 6 November 2018
Streamed live online


To be confirmed


Phyllis Papadavid @ppapadavid - Senior Research Fellow, IEDG, ODI

Stella Nteziryayo - Director, Debt Management Unit, Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, Rwanda

Gregory Smith @gregorylbsmith - Director, Fixed Income Strategist, Emerging Markets, Renaissance Capital

Further speakers to be confirmed 


Almost 40% of sub-Saharan African countries are in danger of slipping into a major debt crisis. Eight countries are already in debt distress, while a further 18 countries are at high risk of joining them – a number that has more than doubled since 2013. 

Unsustainable debt presents significant risks to global commitments to end extreme poverty. A poorly managed debt crisis would not only set back progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals, it could reverse the development progress made over the last decade after debt relief programmes freed up resources for development in 30 African countries.

The international architecture for preventing and resolving debt crises looks outdated. The composition of creditors has changed, while much more of the debt is on commercial terms compared to previous debt crises in the 1980s and 1990s. The current frameworks and tools for resolving sovereign debt crises are therefore unable to deal with the challenges that lie ahead in an effective, fair, and transparent manner. National authorities tasked with managing public debt are also facing new challenges due to an increasingly volatile global environment. 

Leading experts from governments, development agencies, the private sector, civil society and academia convene at this two day conference to debate the prominent issue areas: 

  • What are the potential debt trajectories in SSA and which countries are most vulnerable of being in debt distress?
  • What are the implications of new financing sources for debt sustainability?
  • What needs to change at the national and international levels to mitigate these vulnerabilities, and encourage more sustainable and transparent lending and borrowing?
  • What are the options for improving existing frameworks to ensure effective, fair and transparent sovereign debt crisis resolutions?


Phyllis Papadavid leads the ODI's work in International Macroeconomics. She has over a decade of experience as an international economist and senior financial strategist in investment banking and has advised governments, central banks and major financial institutions including the World Bank and the United Nations. Her expertise is in economic policy, exchange rate economics and financial crises.

Stella Nteziryayo is the head of Public Debt Management in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning of Rwanda, and lead the successful issuance of Rwanda’s first Eurobond. Previously, Stella worked extensively on the design and formulation of the macroeconomic framework, while focusing on the external sector. She is an alumni of the World Bank’s debt management practitioner program, and holds a BA in International Economics from the University of Rwanda, and is currently pursuing a Master Degree in Economics.

Gregory Smith is the Director of frontier and emerging market debt strategy for fixed income investors at Renaissance Capital, with a focus on Africa, the CIS and the Middle East. His research combines macroeconomic and market technical analysis, with insights from 15 years’ living in, and working on, frontier and emerging economies. Prior to this, Greg was a Senior Economist at the World Bank from 2012, where he focused on East Asian and African economies, and before this Greg was a consulting economist, based in Tanzania from 2008-12.