African countries are heavily saddled with foreign debt, this is a truism. The level of foreign indebtedness by african countries has largely been exacerbated by, in principle, commendable ambitious social and economic development programmes many african countries have adopted and embarked on.
In their determined efforts to implement their ambitious social and economic national development programmes, african governments have sought many ways to raise the necessary funds to implement such programmes. Many have taken different measures such as issuing international bonds and borrowing from international lending institutions and China. This has sharply increased Africa’s overall debt level, but also each African country’s national foreign debt level differently.
While foreign borrowing to fund national social and economic development programmes has its own merits, it is imperative to consider and be conscious of what it costs the borrowing countries/governments and the underlying implications of such borrowing, say, in case of a default on repayment obligations.
National debt is a national issue, it affects national life although not equally.
A handful are more affected with it positively as they massively profit from it, help themselves generously on it, siphon a significant chunk of it for personal use and share the largesse with their cronies.
With privileged access to large sums of money that constitute national debt, they embark on an ego-pumping obscene and primitive expenditure, typical of anyone spending what isn’t theirs, what they haven’t worked for and earned.
Their demeanour suddenly becomes of the proverbial deprived children from a deprived neighbourhood on a day trip to an adjacent wealthy and privileged neighbourhood who, out of the kindness of the privileged to the unprivileged, are allowed access to candy shops and exotic toys.
They are instantly overwhelmed by not only plenty but also choice – very dangerous combination for any deprived mind (person). But that feeling quickly wears off, replaced with, what and how much they can carry away – they become wildly greedy.
They appropriate as much as they have access to and can get away with to build massive mansions they’ve no need for. They erect glittering edifices, shopping malls in the middle of social deprivation
They become overnight millionaires and live in obscene, primitive opulence without care to the effects of their mischief to national plight, national wealth and national sovereignty. A heavily indebted country cannot claim to be sovereign.
The misappropriation of foreign debt in african countries by government officials to enrich themselves and their conspiring cronies, is what is the threat.
While a handful benefit from national indebtedness, taking advantage of it to enrich themselves and their cronies to the hilt, the majority of the population are and will be affected in varying ways and degrees, albeit mostly negatively, by national indebtedness.
National debt is a matter of national pride, national sovereignty, national security. It’s a matter of whether or not the country will be able to survive and stand as a sovereign and independent country in the future or as a slave colony to whoever it’s heavily indebted.
African governments should come clean on national debt, on the level and health of national debt. They should be mandated to inform the public – nationals – in clear and comprehensible and honest communication not overloaded with mindless, incomprehensible economic jargon that obscures truth.
National debt is too important a national matter to be left only to some government bureaucrats and technocrats who operate in purposely created opaque economic frameworks and conniving economists from lending institutions, private or public, who are only interested in their share.
African governments should be mandated to run national debt awareness programmes nationally, informing the public on the levels and health of national debt. These programmes should be free from government manipulation and should be conducted in transparent cooperation between governments and the public.
The public should also take it as a national duty, a civic duty, to demand governments for clear communication, information, on a periodic basis – for instance, every six months – on the level of national indebtedness.