Action Card - March 2017

Africa’s debt crisis: The UK’s role

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Photo by Davide D’Amico/Flickr

Over 10 years ago, a major global campaign for debt cancellation for impoverished countries led to
$130 billion of debt being cancelled and major improvements were made in health and education.
However, the campaign’s
call for measures to prevent future debt crises was ignored.

Now, two countries - Ghana and Mozambique - once again have large debts which are leading to cuts
in public spending on basic services. There is a risk other countries could also go into debt crisis.
Lending has boomed since the financial crisis in the western world of 2008, driven by low interest
rates and speculators seeking higher profits in the global South. Over 90% of African government
debts to private lenders are owed under UK law. When countries struggle to pay, loans can be bought
up cheaply by vulture funds who can then sue in UK courts seeking a huge profit.
Campaigners in African countries are trying to hold their governments to account on this new
borrowing but they are also calling for the UK to hold lenders to account.
For example, the London branches of the banks Credit Suisse and VTB lent money secretly to
Mozambique, thus breaking the country’s constitution. Some of the money has been spent on military
equipment. The revelation of these loans, alongside the fall in the price of Mozambique’s commodity
exports, has pushed the southern African country into economic crisis.
The UK parliament should act to ensure that all loans given under UK law have to be publicly disclosed
when they are given. They could also enhance a law, passed in 2010, to prevent speculators making
huge profits out of debt crises.
· Contact your MP by email or letter asking for loans to be made transparent:
· For further information, please see the Jubilee Debt Campaign booklet ‘Africa’s debt crisis: The
UK’s role’
· Paper copies of the booklet can be ordered for free by
Emailing: <>
Phoning: 020 7324 4722
Or writing to: Jubilee Debt Campaign, The Grayston Centre, 28 Charles Square, London, N1 6HT