Africa's Odious Debts: How Foreign Loans and Capital Flight Bled the Continent

Ndikumana, Leonce
Boyce, James K.
Zed Books, London and New York, 2011, ISBN 9 781 8481 3459 1, 152 pp.
Reviewed by or other comment: 

Mfaniseni Fana Sihlongonyane
School of Architecture and Planning, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg

Africa's Odious Debts is a small book but it unleashes a punchy argument that Africa's debt is a result of clandestine complicity between African leaders and foreign creditors. The book presents a compelling demonstration that it is not just African leaders that are corrupt; there is a corruptor and a corruptee. African leaders work hand-in-hand with foreign bankers so much so that African debt accumulation arises from an unscrupulous financial management system that brings international banks (as creditors), international companies (as creditors and/or service providers), and American and European countries (as loan/aid providers) into an endemically corrupt relationship. This book traces the development of this relationship from the acquisition of foreign loans, to the instigation of capital flight by African leaders through cover-up and mis-invoicing, up to the circumvention of human development in the developing world.

The full book review is available here: