The African Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ), a civil society organization, is actively pursuing debt relief for Nigeria and ten other Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) countries currently facing economic challenges, as indicated by recent debt sustainability analyses.

During the two-day International Hybrid Conference on Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) themed “Making Special Drawing Rights Work for the People,” held yesterday in Abuja, Rev David Ugolor, the Executive Director of ANEEJ, addressed reporters to emphasize the urgent need for debt relief. Ugolor highlighted the alarming situation, particularly in the context of Nigeria’s designation as the world’s poverty capital, according to the 2023 World Poverty Clock report. He stressed that without prompt and decisive action from governments and the international community, mounting debt could push more Nigerians and West Africans into extreme and multidimensional poverty.

Ugolor reaffirmed that the conference aligns with ANEEJ’s project, “Tracking Special Drawing Rights Funds and Raising Citizens’ Voices to End the Debt Crisis in West Africa,” supported by the Open Society Foundation. The project aims to address the escalating debt crisis in the ECOWAS region, driven by a steady increase in recent years. The International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) debt sustainability analysis from February 2021 indicates that many West African countries face moderate debt distress, with debt accumulation surpassing growth performance’s ability to support debt servicing.

Citing data from the Debt Management Office (DMO), Ugolor noted that Nigeria’s public debt reached N87.38 trillion as of June 30, 2023. Similarly, Ghana’s public debt stock rose to 569.3 billion cedis ($49.7 billion) by the end of April 2023, according to figures from the Bank of Ghana. Sierra Leone’s debt is classified as high risk, primarily due to solvency and liquidity challenges arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, as reported by statistics from the country’s Debt Management Office.

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