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Tunisia will enter the Top 10 of the most indebted African countries




Tunisia is expected to have a debt ratio of 90.2% in 2021 (photo: F.Dubessy)
Tunisia is expected to have a debt ratio of 90.2% in 2021 (photo: F.Dubessy)
AFRICA. According to a report by the Centre d'Étude et de Réflexion sur le Monde Francophone (CERMF), seven African countries will have a public debt to gross domestic product ratio above the symbolic 100% mark by the end of 2021.
Published on Wednesday 27 October 2021 and extrapolating data from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to 20 October 2021, this projection establishes a ranking of the ten most indebted states (see graph below).

At the top of the list is Sudan, with $56 billion in debt. However, this East African giant's debt ratio has fallen to 209.9% of GDP from 272.9% at the end of 2020, thanks in particular to the decision in July 2021 by the Paris Club countries to cancel part of its debt ($14.1bn, including $5bn by France, out of the $23.5bn owed). In this list of the continent's most indebted countries are two Mediterranean countries: Tunisia and Egypt (debt of 91.4% of its GDP).

Tunisia would thus make "a remarkable and historic entry", as the report indicates, in ninth place in this Top 10 with a debt reaching 90.20% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP), against 89.7% in 2020. "Once considered a model of economic and social development for the whole of Africa and the Arab world, despite some shortcomings, sometimes exaggerated, Tunisia has indeed experienced a lost decade by recording an annual economic growth of only 0.7% on average over the ten-year period 2011-2020," the CERMF analyses.

The Centre also points out that "this North African country, which previously enjoyed an excellent reputation in the international financial markets, unrivalled on the continent apart from South Africa at the time, is now no longer able to launch any bond issue under optimal conditions (low interest rates close to those enjoyed by certain developed countries). This forces the country to turn to the IMF and the World Bank, and/or to seek the financial guarantee of a major foreign power.
Since the Tunisian revolution in January 2011, Tunisia has not been able to curb its political instability and economic crisis.

Francophone Africa more virtuous

Egypt and Tunisia are among the ten most indebted African countries - in red the French-speaking countries, Mauritius being listed as both French-speaking and English-speaking (CERMF chart/IMF data as of 20/10/2021)
Egypt and Tunisia are among the ten most indebted African countries - in red the French-speaking countries, Mauritius being listed as both French-speaking and English-speaking (CERMF chart/IMF data as of 20/10/2021)
With a debt ratio of 58.4% of GDP, Francophone Africa remains less indebted than the rest of the non-Francophone continent (excluding Libya and Somalia, for which data is not available), which has an average of 68.3%.

"This fairly good control of the debt, overall, results in particular from the strong economic growth experienced by most of the countries of French-speaking sub-Saharan Africa," the study points out, specifying a debt rate of 49.4% for this part of the continent.

Eric Apim


Thursday, October 28th 2021



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