Ghana’s bilateral lenders are discussing the formation of an official creditor committee, a first step needed to engage in debt relief talks for the crisis-hit country, according to two sources with direct knowledge of the matter.
The Paris Club of creditor nations has contacted other bilateral creditors, such as China, to engage on forming the committee and deciding who would chair it, one of the sources said.
“Hopefully, it should be resolved soon,” a second source added, without providing details on the timing.
The West African country in January became the fourth nation to apply to the common framework platform, an initiative of Group of 20 major economies launched in 2020 to streamline debt restructuring efforts for poorer countries.
China is Ghana’s single biggest bilateral creditor with US$1.7billion of debt, while Ghana owes US$1.9billion to Paris Club members, according to data from the International Institute of Finance.
China represents around 80% of non-Paris Club debt. The country’s total external debt is US$28.4billion.
Common Framework Talks
An official creditor committee is a key step for Ghana to formally seek financing assurances from bilateral creditors stating they are willing to enter a debt-rework process. Without these assurances, the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) executive board will delay the programme’s approval and, in consequence, money disbursements.
Ghana’s decision to suspend overseas debt payments in late 2022 reflects the parlous state of its economy, which includes government reaching a US$3billion staff-level agreement with the IMF.
Ghana has said it hopes for a rapid debt overhaul, though other countries undergoing the common framework treatment have faced slow progress.
Zambia – Africa’s first COVID-19 pandemic-era sovereign default – requested Common Framework treatment in February 2021; but the committee was only formed last May when the creditors agreed that China and France would co-chair the group. A first meeting of the committee was held in June, though there is still no resolution.
Chad became the first country to ask for a debt overhaul under the common framework in January 2021, but a deal was reached only in November 2022 – and without providing debt relief. And Ethiopia’s efforts to negotiate its debt with bilateral creditors under the G20 platform have been delayed due to the civil war there, and the country is now engaging with the IMF staff on a formal programme amid a peace deal.