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Economic Development in Africa 2004

Debt Sustainability - Oasis or Mirage?

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In the context of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the international community has set itself a target of reducing poverty by half by the year 2015. Many observers have now come to the conclusion that, on present trends, there is very little likelihood that this objective can be achieved at any time close to that date in the poorer countries, including in Africa. The continent’s debt problems and its resource requirements are inextricably linked to the capacity of African countries to generate capital accumulation and growth. The current study questions Africa’s debt sustainability and tries to put these and other related issues in perspective making a number of recommendations on how to deal with Africa’s debt overhang, either through the adoption of new approaches or a major revision and improvement of present debt relief policies.

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New approaches to attaining sustainable debt levels

“…And on current progress, we will fail to meet each Millennium Development Goal in Africa not just for 10 years but for 100 years. Far from achieving primary school education for all, 120 million children will still have no schools to go to, and the target will not be met in sub- Saharan Africa until 2150. Our targets to cut infant mortality by two thirds and halve poverty by 2015 will also go unmet in sub-Saharan Africa until 2150.”

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