Articles

Can Africa Get Out Of Debt?

This piece on debt relief in Africa ran in Time.

It’s archived below.

Oct. 03, 2004
Can Africa Get Out Of Debt?
Loan forgiveness is finally becoming a reality — and it will help. But more needs to be done to get the continent on the road to growth and make a dent in poverty.

By Stephan Faris

Kampala – The sound of shuffling feet announces her entrance as dozens of youngsters rise from their seats to chant in unison: “We welcome our headmistress.” Jane Kansiime, who runs the Kamwokya primary school in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, silently reviews the students, who stand politely at attention, five to a bench. Most wear the navy-and-turquoise school uniform, but other colors speckle the crowded classroom: a yellow shirt, a red dress, a white blouse. “We are not rigid here, as long as a child can come,” says Kansiime, 40. “It’s not the clothes that make the child learn.”

Six years ago, before Uganda became the first country to have its debt burden eased under a World Bank–administered initiative, classrooms like Kansiime’s were half empty. Parents couldn’t afford the $40-$50 annual tuition. Then the World Bank program, called the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries initiative, reduced Uganda’s loan payments on the condition that the savings be channeled into health care, agricultural development and free primary education.

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