African countries
Home Opinions Insight & Analysis Top 3 Lenders to African Countries
Insight & Analysis - March 1, 2022

Top 3 Lenders to African Countries

China is Africa’s largest bilateral lender for public sector loans.

China is considered the biggest bilateral lender to African countries. Apart from the over $153 billion debt African countries owe to China from 2000 to 2019, they also accumulated much of the debt through Eurobonds issued on international financial markets in foreign currencies. Between 2018 and 2019, the total amount of Eurobonds issued exceeded the total value of all bonds sold between 2003 and 2016.

This growing debt is now a global discussion as the debt-to-GNI indicates that the majority of the debt cannot be repaid, therefore causing a strain on the economic growth. In the 12 sub-Saharan African countries, their debt-to-GDP is above the suggested baseline of 45% for low-middle income countries.

According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, South Africa, Guinea Bissau, Eritrea, Ghana, Togo, Sierra Leone, Gabon, Congo, Angola, Mozambique, Kenya, and Zambia have debt that is more than 70% of their respective GDPs.

Here is a list of the top lenders to African countries.


Eurobonds have experienced a surge in popularity throughout Africa. It is usually issued in euros or dollars, serving as a means for governments to access foreign aid and finances from multilateral institutions. Eurobonds have grown to a $136 billion asset class as of July 2021, with 21 Sub-Saharan African countries having one or more outstanding Eurobonds. At the end of 2019, bondholders accounted for 27% of the continent’s foreign debt.

In 2021, African countries issued Eurobonds worth $11.8 billion. This was issued by some emerging markets such as Egypt ($3.75 billion). The bulk of it was issued by frontier Sub-Saharan African economies such as Kenya ($1 billion), Ghana ($3 billion), Benin ($1 billion), Senegal ($0.8 billion), the Ivory Coast ($0.85 billion), and Cameroon ($0.7 billion).


China has been one of the top lenders to African countries since 2015 and accounts for over 13% of the continent’s debt. It is Africa’s largest bilateral lender for public sector loans.

According to the China Africa Research Initiative data at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced and International Studies (SAIS-CARI), from 2000 to 2019, African governments and state-owned firms accepted 1,141 loan commitments worth $153 billion from Chinese financiers.

Also, data from the one hundred loan agreements investigated between Chinese government organisations and twenty-four different low-and middle-income countries revealed that Africa accounts for 47% of the contracts in the sample.

World Bank-International Development Association

The World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA) assists the world’s poorest countries. IDA funds various development projects that promote equity, economic growth, job creation, greater salaries, and improved living circumstances. IDA is the single greatest source of donor cash for essential social services in the world’s 74 poorest nations. It is also one of the significant sources of aid for these countries.

According to a World Bank 2021 report, the debt of low- and middle-income countries in Sub-Saharan Africa is $702 billion in 2020. The debt is at its highest level in a decade. In 2010, sub-Saharan Africa’s debt stood at around $305 billion.

A country’s debt-to-GNI ratio indicates the ability to pay back a loan. In the case of some Sub-Saharan African countries, they have a low capacity to repay that debt.

African countries
Source: ESI Africa

READ ALSO: Top 7 African Countries with the Most Chinese Debt

Leave a Reply

Check Also

Abdul Samad Rabiu’s Financial Milestone: $501M Single-Day Gain Surges Net Worth Beyond $8B

Abdul Samad Rabiu, Nigerian billionaire businessman and founder of BUA Group, has witnesse…