Project information

Africa’s debt trap: averting a new crisis

Debts are spiralling across Sub-Saharan Africa, threatening the lives, livelihoods and wellbeing of millions of people. This project will tackle the UK’s role and support debt campaigners in affected countries to secure immediate relief and long-term solutions to the debt-poverty trap.

September 2016 - September 2018

Charity information: Jubilee Debt Campaign

Jubilee Debt Campaign logo
  • Need


    A series of rapidly growing debt crises across Sub-Saharan Africa are undermining hard-won development progress and driving increases in poverty and inequality. Hit by tax dodging, irresponsible lending, Western-facilitated corruption, and a global commodity price crash, countries like Ghana, Mozambique, Zambia and Malawi are facing dramatic rises in public debt levels. Africa’s new debt trap poses a huge threat to the continent’s poorest people, and needs urgent global action to address it.


    We will deploy our extensive expertise in international debt and finance and our campaigning and advocacy skills and resources to support debt campaigners in affected countries in achieving urgent debt relief and fair and lasting long-term solutions. We will also work with UK partners to tackle the role of UK government policy and UK companies and financial institutions in creating Africa’s new debt crisis, and advocate for a new, international policy framework to tackle the debt-poverty trap.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    To support countries in debt crisis to achieve immediate relief and fair and lasting solutions.


    » Supporting the work of African debt campaigners with research, analysis, strategic advice, and the production and dissemination of publications.
    » Campaigning and advocacy in the UK and internationally to pressure creditors and irresponsible lenders to cancel unjust and unsustainable debts.
    » Briefing journalists and drafting and disseminating media content, including testimonies from African debt campaigners.

    The debt burdens of African countries in debt crisis are lifted through debt cancellation or restructuring, and national regulations on managing public finances are strengthened.

    Aim 2

    To tackle the UK’s role in Africa’s emerging debt crisis.


    » Research and analysis on the role of UK government policy and the role of UK companies and financial institutions in Africa’s emerging debt crisis.
    » Devising policy and legislative recommendations to tackle the UK’s role, especially in relation to transparency and irresponsible lending.
    » Campaigning and advocacy with UK civil society, policy-makers, politicians and the media to achieve policy and regulatory change.

    UK policy and legislative change is achieved to tackle the UK’s role in Africa’s debt crisis, especially in relation to transparency and irresponsible lending.

    Aim 3

    To strengthen joint campaigns for international action on poor country debts.


    » Collaboration with international partners to build a shared understanding of the international causes and solutions to the debt-poverty trap.
    » Develop joint strategies and campaigns with international partners for a new international policy framework to tackle the debt-poverty trap.
    » Playing an active role in joint international campaigns, including through research, policy-development, advocacy, activism and media work.

    There is increased active support from international civil society and governments for international policy and regulatory changes to tackle the debt-poverty trap.

  • Impact


    The project will help to alleviate the burden of unsustainable public debts on the populations of countries in Africa. It will help secure immediate relief and tackle the underlying causes of the debt-poverty trap. As a result, it will increase the public finances available to African governments for basic public services like water, healthcare, and education, and for tackling poverty and inequality. Success will be demonstrated via progress in achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals.


    A number of African countries received significant debt cancellation in the 2000s, and there is a widespread belief that Africa’s debt crisis is over. We are therefore undertaking concerted efforts to build awareness that a new crisis is emerging. A second major risk is that Africa’s debt problems are blamed solely on domestic corruption and that the major role of UK and international actors and policies is ignored. Drawing attention to these aspects of the problem is a central priority for us.


    We will report to donors through regular updates on our website to track progress and developments, regular emails to supporters, and through our annual report and accounts, which will be made available to any donors who request them.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £40,000

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      Amount Heading Description
      £3,000 Project Coordination Project planning, strategy development, coordination and monitoring
      £6,000 Research & Analysis Researching and monitoring debt and finance data and national and international policy
      £5,000 Advocacy Briefing and influencing civil society, Parliamentarians, decision-makers and the media
      £10,000 Publications & Media Production and dissemination of reports and briefings; media work, social media and website hosting
      £3,000 Supporter Materials Production and dissemination of campaigning materials, including leaflets and postcards
      £6,000 International Coordination Travel and international coordination, including visiting partners in Africa
      £4,000 Hosting Hosting African debt campaigners for joint advocacy and campaigning work
      £3,000 Events Event organising, including venue hire and refreshments
  • Background


    The main activities of the project will take place in the UK. We will mobilise Jubilee Debt Campaign’s supporters across the UK, including faith groups, development and global justice groups, and diaspora communities, and work with UK politicians, policy-makers and the media. We will work closely with debt campaigners based in Sub-Saharan African countries in debt crisis, including Ghana, Mozambique, Zambia and Malawi, and support the activities of those debt campaigners in their countries.


    The ultimate beneficiaries of the project are the people in Sub-Saharan African countries in debt crisis, whose lives and livelihoods are being put at risk by rising public debt levels. The project will help to reduce the indebtedness of their countries and the risk of future debt crises, thereby supporting poverty reduction and sustainable development, and helping to ensure adequate and sustainable public funding for affordable and accessible public services.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    We are the only UK organisation working on sovereign debt and have a strong track record of delivering progress on global debt issues. Key successes include major progress on developing country debt problems as part of the global Jubilee 2000 campaign, and $100 million of debt cancellation for Ebola-affected countries in 2015. We have a network of local activists and strong connections with organisations working on debt, poverty and sustainable development in the UK and around the world.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Sarah-Jayne Clifton

    Responsible for project oversight, and lead on strategy development, advocacy coordination and liaison with international allies

    Tim Jones

    Lead on project research, data monitoring and analysis, policy development, and drafting briefings and publications

    Jonathan Stevenson

    Responsible for UK media and social media and supporter communications, including development of supporter materials

    Clare Walden

    Lead on UK education, awareness-raising and movement-building, including work with UK grassroots allies and organising supporter events