The Group of 20 (G20) summit ended last weekend with a call for “immediate and vigorous measures” to address the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. Among these is a looming sovereign debt crisis, particularly in Africa. Urgent and collective action is needed there to stave off that crisis and to maintain the invaluable social gains that the continent has made.

In the early 2000s multilateral debt relief provided a much needed reprieve for heavily indebted poor countries around the world. Many African nations took the opportunity. Their economies grew and their development indicators improved. Nevertheless, some countries’ debt became unsustainable as ultra-low interest rates allowed them to increase borrowing...

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