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Why Africa Shouldn’t Count on Janet Yellen for Debt Help

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen speaks during her visit to the General Delegation for Rapid Entrepreneurship for Women and Young People in Dakar on January 20, 2023. SEYLLOU / AFP

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is in Africa touting the Biden administration’s reenergized Africa policy. Her visit comes as several African countries are struggling with debt distress and Zambia and Ghana have officially defaulted.

Debt’s prominence as a talking point is somewhat awkward, considering that she and her colleagues are also wrangling with political opponents to raise the U.S.’s own debt ceiling. U.S. national debt stands at about $31 trillion – almost a third of the total value of the global economy. The sheer size of that number and the U.S.’s superpower status makes it almost impossible to compare it to other debt crises.

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