Ghana is not the world’s most indebted. Mahama’s claim misleading

On Wednesday, December 13, 2023, Former President John Dramani Mahama alleged that Ghana is the most indebted country in the world citing a viral flyer making rounds on social media.

The Former President and Flagbearer of the New Democratic Congress ( NDC ), H.E John Dramani Mahama made this claim on his  “Building Ghana Tour” when he addressed the Wiaso Omanhene upon paying him a courtesy visit. His visit to the Omanhene was streamed live on Woezor TV on Facebook.

Fact-Check Ghana has verified the former president’s claim and presents the facts below.

Claim: “Recently, I was looking at a paper and it said ‘The most highly indebted countries in the world’, Ghana is leading. We owe 31 billion Dollars“

Verdict: Misleading


The Former President of Ghana referenced a recent artwork widely shared on social media, showing various African countries and their debt levels. (see below).

Fact-Check Ghana’s verification indicates that the list in the artwork is contained in the U.S – China Economic and Security Review Commission’s 2023 Annual Report to Congress. The figures show the cumulative debt of nations who have participated in the Highly Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) initiative from loans provided by China only (see page 88).

According to the report, Ghana indeed has accumulated a significant debt of $31.1 billion from China. This makes Ghana the country with the highest debt to China out of the lot who have benefited from the HIPC programme. The detailed breakdown of other African countries and their corresponding debts includes Guinea with $21.9 billion, Ethiopia with $14.8 billion and Tanzania with $12.6 billion. Thus, Ghana’s $31.1 billion debt does not mean Ghana is the most indebted in the world, but rather the most indebted to China among HIPC beneficiaries.

Screengrab of page 88 of the U.S – China Economic and Security Review Commission’s 2023 Annual Report to Congress

Also, even though Ghana remains one of the countries with a high debt-to-GDP ratio in the world, according to the World Bank’s data, the country is not the most indebted. Ghana’s debt-to-GDP ratio is lower than many countries including Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Sierra Leone.

In conclusion, NDC Flagbearer John Dramani Mahama’s claim that Ghana is the world’s most indebted country because of the $31.1 billion debt owed to China is misleading.

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