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  • Writer's pictureTuka Institute

Who holds African states' debt (1 of 4)

Updated: Jun 30, 2021

Spotlight on Cote d'Ivoire and Senegal's top lenders

As part of our series on debt in Africa, we wanted to highlight African states' top lenders and identify a few trends in Western Africa in particular. Our data is based on the total debt outstanding and disbursed by these countries in 2019 and sourced from the World Bank debtor reporting system. We will first spotlight Cote d'Ivoire and Senegal.

Cote d'Ivoire and Senegal are the top borrowers in francophone West Africa mostly due to the size of their economies compared to other countries in the region. We grouped the two countries' creditors in two groups, (1) creditor institutions and (2) creditor countries. Creditor institutions are mostly multilateral institutions such as the World Bank and the IMF. We included bondholders (Eurobonds) in the creditor institutions' group as they compare in debt's volume. We grouped countries who engage in bilateral debt agreements in the second group (creditor countries) to highlight their presence on the continent and their particular interest in certain countries.

Below is a chart of Cote d'Ivoire and Senegal's top 3 institutional lenders:

The most important trend observed above is Cote d'Ivoire and Senegal's increased presence on the eurobond market. In 2019, Cote d'Ivoire owed over twice as much to bondholders as it did to the IMF and the World bank combined. Senegal also owed more to bondholders than the country did to the World bank and other multilateral lenders combined.

Other multilateral lenders (pictured above) represent multilateral institutions excluding the World Bank, IMF and the African development bank; regional institutions and the Islamic development bank are examples of other multilateral lenders.

Below is a chart of Cote d'Ivoire and Senegal's top 5 creditor countries:

As pictured above, China and France are the top 2 lenders of these two economies. In Cote d'Ivoire, China has loaned over twice as much as other creditor countries combined.

It is no longer a secret that China has increased its presence in Africa over the last two decades through concessional loans, Zero-Interest loans, Preferential Buyer's Export Credits and commercial loans. China's lending presence has diversified the portfolio of lenders African governments turn toward and China has quickly become the largest infrastructure partner.

Cote d'Ivoire and China entered into 23 loan agreements a, largely focused on infrastructure projects. The largest loan agreement to date amounted $820M a for a national power grid upgrade. Senegal and China loan agreements have also focused on infrastructure projects through 17 loan agreements a, the largest being the Thies-Touba toll highway amounting $689M a.

Recent findings have found that China's loan volume to African states has been decreasing over the last few years. If this trend persists, how will it affect Cote d'Ivoire and Senegal?

By Levi Kedowide, President @ TUKA Institute

a - China Africa Research Initiative and Boston University Global Development Policy Center. 2021. Chinese Loans to Africa Database, Version 2.0. Retrieved from

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