SEATINI Uganda, UDN and AFRODAD Jointly Organize Media Capacity Building Workshop on Debt and Development.
Africa is threatened with a debt crisis: two decades after debt restructuring under Heavily indebted poor countries (HIPC) and Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI). Gross government debt which reflects the total liabilities for countries to be debt free has been on a consistent rise in the African continent and for all regional economic communities for more than 20 years. It rose from about 192 billion USD in 2000, to over 1.5 trillion USD in 2020. This is way above the revenue earning potential for the region which stood at 43.2 billion USD and 457 billion USD during the same period. This is a clear indication that African countries have been borrowing above their earning potential – a situation that has been compounded by the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.
The media has a greater role of fostering transparency in Debt management including commitment by all African governments to release in real time all data on old and new debt from all sources.
On 21st to 23rd March 2022, the African Forum on Debt and Development (AFRODAD) in partnership with Uganda Debt Network (UDN) and Southern and Eastern Africa Trade Information and Negotiations Institute (SEATINI) – Uganda held a 3-day national media workshop on debt and development. This workshop was part of the overall AFRODAD Media Initiative organized by AFRODAD. The objective of the Media Capacity Building workshop was to build capacity of journalists on Debt and Development with integrated and practical sessions that will strengthen participating journalists’ reporting skills on debt and related issues. The workshop was attended by media practitioners, editors, reporters, producers and representatives from Civil Society Organizations (CSOs).
While making a presentation during the media workshop, Mr Herbert Kafeero, Communication Coordinator at SEATINI Uganda noted that the rising debt remains a serious challenge of development in Uganda, EAC and Africa at large.
‘‘For the media to effectively play the various functions, the media needs other actors such as Civil Society Organizations including AFRODAD, Uganda Debt Network, SEATINI Uganda, among others,’’ Herbert Kafeero said.
Herbert Kafeero later called on journalists to expand the pool of sources, invite technical people from government to talk about how they negotiate and manage the public loans, question Expenditure and hold Government Accountable, interrogate geopolitics around Debt, Conditionalities and link Debt to other development financing mechanisms among others.
Dr Enock Twinoburyo, an Economist and researcher at SDG Center for Africa noted that high debt servicing costs has a cost implication on human and social development, since much of the Debt is for infrastructure development which tends to crowd out social development, so we have revisit our priorities. Much as our debt is still low compared to other countries, our debt servicing is already at a high of 30% with 17% going into interest repayment, meaning we have acquired very expensive debt.
Mr Paul Busharizi, an award-winning journalist noted that much as Uganda’s debt is still low compared to other countries, debt servicing is already at a high of 30% with 17% going into interest repayment, meaning we have acquired very expensive debt.