Project information

Africa’s debt trap: averting a new crisis

The debts of many African countries are spiralling out of control, driving poverty and inequality and threatening the livelihoods of millions of people. This project supports campaigns with affected communities to secure urgent debt relief and strengthen long-term financial accountability.

September 2016 - September 2020

Charity information: Jubilee Debt Campaign

Jubilee Debt Campaign logo
  • Need


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


    We will utilise our extensive expertise in international debt issues, campaigning and advocacy to support campaigners in affected countries to secure urgent debt relief and lasting solutions to their countries’ debt problems. We will also work to expose and tackle the role of UK policies and financial institutions in creating Africa’s latest debt crisis, and advocate for policy change here in the UK to rein in the power of the banks and help tackle the global problem of runaway debts.

  • 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, policy and strategy, and the dissemination of information.
    » Campaigning and advocacy in the UK and internationally to secure cancellation by creditors of unjust and unsustainable debts.
    » Awareness-raising with key audiences in the UK and internationally about Africa’s debt crisis, including politicians, the media and the public.

    The debt burdens of African countries in debt crisis are lifted through outright debt cancellation or debt restructuring.

    Aim 2

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


    » Research, analysis and awareness-raising of the roles of UK government policy and UK banks and financial institutions in Africa’s debt crisis.
    » Devising and advocating for policy solutions to tackle the UK’s role, especially in relation to transparency and irresponsible lending.
    » Organising public campaigning and activism with UK activists and civil society partners to secure the policy change needed.

    The rules over lending to governments by UK financial institutions are strengthened, especially in relation to transparency and accountability.

    Aim 3

    To strengthen global campaigns for international action on poor country debts


    » Strengthen collaboration with international partners to tackle the problems with the global finance system that underpin the cycle of debt crises.
    » Help develop joint international strategies and campaigns for a new international policy framework to tackle the debt-poverty trap
    » Play an active role in joint international campaigns, including through research, policy-development, advocacy, activism and media work.

    Coordinated global campaigning on debt and finance has grown, with more civil society groups with more members in more countries working together for change.

  • Impact


    The project will help to alleviate the burden of unsustainable, runaway public debts on countries in sub-Saharan Africa. It will help secure immediate debt relief and strengthen financial transparency and accountability, thereby increasing the public funds available for essential public services like water, healthcare, education, and housing. Success will be demonstrated via decreases in debt levels, debt sustainability and progress in achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals.


    There is widespread belief that Africa’s debt problems were solved by the debt write-offs of the early 2000s. We are highlighting that the new crisis is occurring because the structural causes of unsustainable debts – irresponsible lending and borrowing - have not been addressed. Africa’s debt problems are often blamed on domestic corruption and the role of UK and international financial actors and policies ignored. We are therefore drawing attention to these aspects of the problem.


    Through regular updates on our website to track progress and developments.
    Through email updates to supporters.
    Through our annual report and accounts and specific reports to donors who request them.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £60,000

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      Amount Heading Description
      £4,000 Project Coordination Project planning, strategy development, coordination and monitoring
      £10,500 Research & Analysis Researching and monitoring debt/finance data and policies, and financial and political developments.
      £7,500 Advocacy and policy Briefing and influencing civil society, Parliamentarians, decision-makers and the media
      £10,500 International Coordination Travel and international coordination, including visiting partners and strategy meetings
      £9,000 Education and activism Educating and organising UK activists in support of campaigns of our allies in affected countries
      £12,000 Publications and media Production and dissemination of reports and briefings; media work, social media and website hosting
      £6,500 Supporter materials Production/dissemination of education and campaigning materials, including leaflets and postcards
  • Background


    The main activities of the project will take place in the UK. We will monitor and analyse the debt crises in affected countries in sub-Saharan Africa; work with campaigners in those countries to support their education, campaigning and advocacy work; coordinate with international partners to strengthen international solidarity; and undertake education, advocacy and media work aimed at key target audiences here in the UK, including grassroots activists, politicians and the general public.


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

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    We are the only UK organisation working on global sovereign debt issues, with a strong track record of delivering increased education, awareness and real-world policy change. Key successes include $135 billion of debt cancellation for 35 poor countries as part of the global Jubilee 2000 campaign, and new UK laws on vulture funds. 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

    Director of Jubilee Debt Campaign, with 13 years’ experience of campaigning and advocacy on global justice issues.

    Tim Jones

    Senior Policy Officer and debt and finance specialist, leading Jubilee Debt Campaign’s research, analysis and policy development.

    Jenny Nelson

    Campaign Communications Officer and our lead on campaign communications and social media.

    Clare Walden

    Activism & Outreach Officer, co-lead on Jubilee Debt Campaign’s activism, education and movement-building work.

A large share of the government revenues of Mozambique have to be spent on servicing the debt. Little is left for health, education and water provision. At the same time our income base has hardly grown despite substantial investments. This is because multinational mining companies barely pay taxes.

Dr. Eufrigina does Reis Manoela, Mozambican Debt Group