This conference is a unique opportunity to bring together senior government officials from across sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and a wide range of experts and stakeholders, to untangle the complexity facing sovereign borrowers in SSA and focus on ways forward for getting the best deal for financing national development plans, including the sustainable development goals.

Debt financing provides a vital source of needed funds for development and when used wisely it can help to boost a country’s economy. Major changes in the composition of external public debt in SSA over the past decade, while giving sovereign borrowers more choice, have made prudent debt management more challenging. The shift from concessional loans provided by bilateral and multilateral agencies towards market-based loans from private lenders and less concessional loans from bilateral official creditors have led to more expensive and riskier debt portfolios in several countries. The terms and conditions attached to some of these debt instruments, especially relatively new and complex instruments, are also often not fully understood by sovereign borrowers, making it difficult to make informed decisions.

Borrowing countries, therefore, need to find a way to more prudently take on debt to grow in an increasingly complex and volatile financing landscape. The objective of the conference, which sets it apart from other discussions, is to empower public debt managers, and anyone involved in public debt and financial management in SSA, by identifying practical steps they can take to ensure that external borrowing is used to ultimately foster sustainable economic growth and that the terms and conditions of debt are more favourable.

It provides a special opportunity to do this by bringing together not just senior government officials but also experts from across SSA, bilateral and multilateral creditors and representatives from civil society organisations, academia, think-tanks and private sector actors to explore these issues.

The conference is co-organised by the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development of the Government of Uganda, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, and the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) supported by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA). During an interactive three-day conference, participants will discuss current challenges and trends with debt financing across SSA, exchange ideas and perspectives as well as identify policy options and follow-up actions to tackle shared challenges and issues.