Under the radar
Private sector debt and coronavirus in developing countries
The G20 must step in and compel private creditors to cancel the debts of developing countries to avoid the loss of many more lives.
In the global south, coronavirus is leaving a trail of devastation - from widespread loss of life from the virus itself, to huge economic disruption that has left hundreds of millions of people, who were already struggling to make ends meet, without jobs or sufficient food. Despite this huge economic shock, many developing countries are continuing to pay off debts to rich countries, public institutions like the World Bank and IMF, and some of the richest banks and hedge funds in the world. This means they have less money to meet the immediate needs of the population.
This briefing aims to shine a light on the debt owed to private creditors by five African countries - Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal and Zambia - and it outlines the steps which the G20 needs to take immediately to avert further economic chaos. It highlights the central role of enormous financial corporations like BlackRock, HSBC, Goldman Sachs, Legal & General, JP Morgan and UBS, which have become increasingly important in the world of sovereign debt. Private creditors’ share of the foreign debts of low- and lower-middle income governments increased from 25% in 2010 to 47% in 2018.1 Multi-trillion dollar asset manager BlackRock alone holds close to US$1 billion of ‘Eurobonds’ in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal and Zambia through a number of funds.