University of Malawi (Unima) economics professor Ronald Mangani has backed calls for Africa to reform the global debt architecture from being one that favours creditors at the expense of debtors.
He said this in Lilongwe yesterday in his keynote address at the opening of the three-day African Conference on Debt and Development (AfCoDD II) organised by the African Forum and Network on Debt and Development (Afrodad).
He said: “Africa faces a persistent need for more debt because the global debt architecture is structured to perpetuate the dependence of African economies on it, even when terms for contracting debt are becoming increasingly unfavourable for most of the countries.
“It is, therefore, necessary to interrogate and champion a reform of the global debt architecture, in order to reverse it from being one that unduly favours creditors against debtors.”
Mangani, a renowned economist who once served as Secretary to the Treasury, then took a swipe at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank for being “a vehicle for ensuring that Africa remains stagnant, debt-ridden, vulnerable and incapable of making its own decisions”.
He said: “Hipc [the Highly Indebted Poor Countries] was a mask. The real motive was to keep developing countries in a state of indebtedness, as a means of keeping them under perpetual macroeconomic and microeconomic control.
“Loans from the IMF and the World Bank are made conditional upon the adoption of usually disruptive and punitive reforms. Limitations are imposed on use of domestic capital and public investment; foreign capital has been the biggest beneficiary.”
Mangani, therefore, called for Africa to rise up and find solutions to its problems.
In a separate interview, Afrodad board vice-chairperson Barbara Kalima Phiri said the meeting is a follow-up to last year’s AfCoDD I.
She said Africa is caught up in a vicious circle of owing and repaying: “We have been fighting for debt cancellation for many years. I started as a campaigner before 2000, pushing for a real overhaul of this system”.
Budget and Finance Committee of Parliament chairperson Gladys Ganda rued the limited time that is usually allocated to legislators to debate bills that seek to authorise government to borrow money.
The conference, which has drawn participants from governments, civil society organisations, Parliaments and the media, is being held under the theme From Recovery to Reform: Sisi Ndio Tuko–Stop the Bleeding.