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Who holds African states' debt (3 of 4)

Spotlight on Benin and Togo


Our third highlight is on two neighboring countries on the Western African coast, Benin and Togo.


Besides the strong presence of China and multilateral organizations such as the IMF and the World Bank, the two countries' governments have espoused different creditors and debt sourcing strategies on international markets.


The main difference between the two countries national debt is Benin's strong presence on the eurobond market. Benin has borrowed over $557M from bondholders for the 5 past years; making bondholders the country's 3rd largest creditors. Meanwhile, Togo entered international markets only in mid-2019.


Another difference is the volume of the two countries multilateral debts. In 2019 for example, while Benin had over $1,082M in debt outstanding and disbursed from the World Bank, Togo owed $165M to the World Bank. From a macroeconomic standpoint, this distinct difference stems from the size of the two countries economies - Benin's GDP of $10,403M vs Togo's GDP of $5,191M (2019 figures) - and from a political standpoint, the multiple sanctions imposed to Togo over the last decades have impacted the country's ability to borrow from multilateral institutions.

Source: World Bank debtor reporting system

Other multilaterals* - Multilateral institutions other than the World Bank, IMF and African Development Bank. In the case of Western Africa, debt from the West African development and other regional institutions make up the total debt from other multilaterals.


Source: World Bank debtor reporting system


Unlike almost every other western African countries, Benin and Togo do not have France among their top 5 creditor countries

Benin and Togo also have different bilateral debt outlooks. While Benin's top partners are mostly European countries (UK, Netherlands and Germany), Togo has partnered mostly with Asian and Middle Eastern countries. The two countries however share one important trait, unlike almost every other western African countries, Benin and Togo do not have France among their top 5 creditor countries. It is unclear whether this low level of bilateral debt between France and these two countries is intentional.


By Levi Kedowide, President @ TUKA Institute

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