Africa’s rising debt

5 - 6 November 2018
Streamed live online


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The international architecture for preventing and resolving debt crises looks outdated.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?



Day 1: Monday 5 November

10.00 – 11.00   
Registration and coffee/tea

11.00 – 13.00   
Welcome remarks: Alex Thier - Executive Director, ODI
Scene setting: Simon Gill - Acting Managing Director, ODI
Opening keynote speaker: Dr. Antoinette Monsio Sayeh

13.00 – 14.00   

14.00 – 15.30   
Session 1. Debt dynamics in Africa’s complex financing landscape

Doerte Doemeland - Practice Manager, Global Macro and Debt Analytics, Macroeconomics, Trade & Investment, WBG
Fanwell Bokosi @FanwellBokosi - Executive Director, AFRODAD
Gregory Smith @gregorylbsmith - Director, Fixed Income Strategist, Emerging Markets, Renaissance Capital
David Robinson - Deputy Director, African Department, IMF
Phyllis Papadavid @ppapadavid - Research Fellow, ODI

Jonathan Rosenthal - Africa Editor, The Economist 

15.30 – 16.00

16.00 – 17.30   
Session 2. Sustainable and transparent lending 

Ruurd Brouwer - CEO, TCX Fund
Jamie Drummond @DrumJamie - Co-Founder & Executive Director, Global Strategy, ONE
David Beers - Special Adviser, International Directorate, Bank of England 
Giulia Pellegrini - Portfolio Manager and Director of Research for Frontier Markets, BlackRock 
Judith Tyson @judith_odi, Research Fellow, ODI

Dirk Willem Te Velde - Head of Programme, International Development Economic Group, ODI 

17.30 – 18.30   
Evening reception
Address by Razia Khan, Chief Economist for Africa and the Middle East, Standard Chartered 

Day 2: Tuesday 6 November 

08.30 – 09.00
Registration and coffee/tea

09.00 – 10.30
Session 3: Challenges and reforms at the country level

Godfrey A. Dhatemwa - Commissioner Debt Policy and Issuance, Ministry of Finance Planning and Economic Development, Uganda
Shakira Mustapha - Research Fellow, ODI
Matthew Martin - Director, Development Finance International 
Gerard Gakunzi - Debt Policy and Negotiation Officer, Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, Rwanda
Carolina Renteria @carorent - Division Chief Public Financial Management Division, Fiscal Affairs Department, IMF

Marcus Manuel - Senior Research Associate, ODI

10.30 – 11.00

11.00 – 12.30  
Session 4: Restructuring sovereign debt

Isabelle Bui - Secretary-General of the Paris Club
Penelope Hawkins - Senior Economic Affairs Officer, GDS/UNCTAD
Tim Jones @tim_jones6 - Senior Campaigns and Policy Officer, Jubilee Debt Campaign
Benu Schneider - Adjunct Senior Research Fellow, Research and Information System for Developing Countries, RIS, New Delhi
Deborah Zandstra - Partner, Clifford Chance, London   

Jesse Griffiths - Head of Programme, Development Strategy and Finance, ODI 

12.30 – 13.15
Recommendations and closing  

Jamie Drummond @DrumJamie - Co-Founder & Executive Director, Global Strategy, ONE
Baba Musa - Director of Debt Management Department, WAIFEM
Carolina Renteria - Division Chief Public Financial Management Division, Fiscal Affairs Department, IMF

Closing keynote speaker
Dr. Donald Kaberuka

13.15 – 14.30

14:30 – 17:30
Selective bilateral meetings and roundtables