Ghana Emerges as Africa’s Leading Debtor to the IMF


In a recent financial report released by the International Monetary Fund for July 2023, Ghana has once again emerged as Africa’s leading debtor to the IMF.

The country’s debt to the IMF has experienced a staggering increase of 35.55% over the examined period, accounting for a significant 9.55% share of the total loans owed by African nations.

Ghana Emerges as Africa's Leading Debtor to the IMF
Ghana Emerges as Africa’s Leading Debtor to the IMF.

Currently, Ghana’s debt measured in Special Drawing Rights stands at an astonishing $1.689 billion, which marks a considerable hike from the $1.246 billion SDR noted just three months earlier in April 2023.

Despite these alarming figures, Ghana has managed to repay SDR 8 million to the IMF during this period, showcasing efforts to mitigate this mounting debt.

Trailing behind Ghana in terms of outstanding loans to the IMF in Africa are Kenya and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, securing the second and third positions respectively. Kenya’s debt to the IMF was recorded at SDR 1.008 billion, while the Democratic Republic of the Congo owed the Fund SDR 1.142 billion.

Sudan and Uganda claimed the fourth and fifth spots, with their exposure to the IMF amounting to SDR 992 million and SDR 812 million respectively. This leaves the rest of the African nations accountable for a substantial debt of 11.32 billion SDR to the IMF.

The reasons behind Ghana’s continued position as Africa’s leading debtor to the IMF can be attributed to various factors. Historically, Ghana has experienced economic challenges, including high levels of debt, fiscal deficits, and a reliance on borrowing to finance its infrastructure projects and social programs.

These factors, coupled with external shocks such as the COVID-19 pandemic and commodity price fluctuations, have further exacerbated Ghana’s debt burden.

To address these challenges, Ghana has adopted several measures in collaboration with the IMF. In 2015, the country entered into a three-year Extended Credit Facility program with the IMF to help stabilize its economy and address structural issues.

Under this program, the IMF provided financial assistance and policy advice to support Ghana’s efforts to restore macroeconomic stability, enhance revenue mobilization, and improve public financial management.

Ghana Emerges as Africa's Leading Debtor to the IMF
Ghana is one of the world’s biggest producers of both gold and cocoa.

Ghana successfully completed the program in 2018 and has since continued its collaboration with the IMF through various initiatives.

In recent years, Ghana has implemented fiscal consolidation measures, including expenditure controls, revenue enhancement measures, and the implementation of a fiscal responsibility law.

These efforts have helped to improve Ghana’s fiscal position and reduce its fiscal deficit. Additionally, the country has undertaken structural reforms to enhance governance, promote transparency, and improve the business environment.

These initiatives, coupled with sustained efforts to diversify the economy and attract foreign direct investment, are expected to contribute to Ghana’s long-term debt sustainability.

However, challenges remain. Ghana’s debt sustainability is still a concern, and the country needs to balance its borrowing needs with the ability to generate sustainable revenue.

This report highlights the urgent requirement for strong financial management and judicious economic choices to address the debt crisis confronting African nations. It is imperative that the governments of these countries allocate resources strategically and devise effective repayment strategies to alleviate their debt burdens and pave the way for a more secure financial future.

The government must prioritize investments that have high economic and social returns while also ensuring prudent debt management. Efforts to improve domestic revenue mobilization, reduce reliance on external borrowing, and enhance debt management capacities are crucial in addressing Ghana’s debt challenges.

As Ghana continues to navigate its debt burden, it is essential for the government to maintain dialogue and cooperation with the IMF and other international financial institutions. Collaboration with these institutions can provide valuable technical assistance, policy advice, and financial support to help Ghana achieve sustainable economic growth and reduce its dependence on external borrowing.

Ayelagbe Samuel Adeleke
Ayelagbe Samuel Adeleke is an economist, finance, and data analytics expert. He has a knack for transforming complex economic concepts into engaging news stories. He has honed his research and analytical skills through his education, earning a Bachelor's degree in Economics from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife.



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