Browsing: central banks

Africa's debt sustainability struggles

Over the past decade, African countries have accumulated external debt at a faster pace. The countries have capitalized on abundant, low-cost international credit for fiscal and balance-of-payments funding to help drive development plans.

Africa’s total external debt, accrued by both the private and public sectors, owed to foreign lenders, has surpassed $1 trillion. The related annual debt servicing costs broke through the $100 billion threshold for the first time in 2021.

There appears to be a consensus that the world is finally turning its back on the US dollar. There are simmering shifts within the global monetary system. The shift becomes ever more apparent, best described as de-dollarisation.

The world is searching for alternatives to the US dollar, finding them more often. Thus, moving away from the dollar can no longer be stopped. For instance, early this year, Indonesia reiterated it would promote local currency settlement (LCS) in cross-border trade and investment to reduce dependence on the US dollar.

Countries must continue to work to mitigate their vulnerabilities over time. This involves minimizing balance-sheet misalignments, establishing money and foreign exchange markets, and lowering exchange rate passthrough by increasing monetary policy credibility.

However, in the short term—while vulnerabilities remain high—the use of extra instruments may assist relieve short-term policy trade-offs when certain shocks occur. In particular, foreign exchange intervention, macroprudential policy measures, and capital flow controls may help increase monetary and fiscal policy autonomy, promote financial and price stability, and minimize output volatility if reserves are enough and these instruments are available.