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The Biggest Issue on Every African Finance Ministers’ Mind at the Spring Meetings was the Risk of a Debt Crisis in the Region

African countries are pushing for greater influence at the World Bank and International Monetary Fund to prioritize the needs of developing countries grappling with one of the harshest economic environments since the 2008 financial crisis.Calls to reform the so-called Bretton Woods’ financial institutions have grown louder in recent months as the mounting debt problem threatens to wipe away socio-economic gains of the last 25 years. The process to restructure distressed debt has been held up in countries including Ghana and Zambia, where China, a key bilateral lender, has so far been reluctant to take a “haircut” without the World Bank doing so too. African finance ministers and their teams want the World Bank and the IMF to move quicker and offer much larger support than seems possible under the current order. There are also concerns that the efforts to reform the World Bank, with an increased focus on climate change, will deprioritize poverty alleviation and end up benefiting high and middle income countries rather than low income countries.

SEMAFOR