Africa's Odious Debts

How Foreign Loans and Capital Flight Bled a Continent

Léonce Ndikumana and James K. Boyce


Reveals that, contrary to the perception of Africa being a drain on resources, more money destined for the West leaves the continent than it actually receives.
In Africa's Odious Debts, Boyce and Ndikumana reveal the shocking fact that, contrary to the popular perception of Africa being a drain on the financial resources of the West, the continent is actually a net creditor to the rest of the world. The extent of capital flight from sub-Saharan Africa is remarkable: more than $700 billion in the past four decades.

Léonce Ndikumana and James K. Boyce reveal the intimate links between foreign loans and capital flight. Of the money borrowed by African governments in recent decades, more than half departed in the same year, with a significant portion of it winding up in private accounts at the very banks that provided the loans in the first place. Meanwhile, debt-service payments continue to drain scarce resources from Africa, cutting into funds available for public health and other needs.

Controversially, the authors argue that African governments should repudiate these ‘odious debts’ from which their people derived no benefit, and that the international community should assist in this effort. A vital book for anyone interested in Africa, its future and its relationship with the West.

Author Bio

James K. Boyce is Professor of Economics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Léonce Ndikumana is Professor of Economics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction 
  • 1. Tales from the Shadows of International Finance 
  • 2. Measuring African Capital Flight 
  • 3. The Revolving Door 
  • 4. The Human Costs 
  • 5. The Way Forward 
  • Appendix 1: Tables 
  • Appendix 2: Summary Outcome and Policy Recommendations from the Senior Policy Seminar on Capital Flight in Sub-Saharan Africa, held in Pretoria, South Africa, November 2007
  • Notes 
  • References


'This book should radically alter thinking and policy.'
John Weeks, Professor Emeritus, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London

'Eminently readable, a fascinating study on how absolute power corrupts absolutely beyond the tethers of human conscience.'
Dev Kar, Lead Economist, Global Financial Integrity

'This is probably the most important book on Africa in recent years; it is vital reading for everyone with an interest in African affairs.'
John Christensen, Director, Tax Justice Network

'With this remarkable book Ndikumana and Boyce continue their path-breaking analysis of one of the most important, but under-researched, reasons for Africa's continuing poverty.'
Jonathan Glennie, ODI research fellow and author of The Trouble with Aid

'African governments borrow money from abroad, the incoming cash fuels capital flight, and capital flight leaves death and deprivation in its wake for millions of people across the continent. Bravo for an important, timely, and influential work!'
Raymond Baker, Director, Global Financial Integrity

‘This book is a "must reading material" for anybody who wants to understand how African got into the debt crisis, how to avoid its repetition, and probably reverse the debt overhang.’
Kwabena Gyimah-Brempong, Professor and Chair, Department of Economics, University of South Florida


Publication Date: 13 October 2011
152 pages

Product ISBNs: Paperback: 9781848134591
Hardback: 9781848134584
eBook ePub: 9781780321462
eBook PDF: 9781848134607
eBook Kindle: 9781780321479

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