Browsing: United States dollar

According to the EIU graphic, much of the external debt stock of African countries consists of public medium- and long-term borrowings. This form of borrowing has been on the rise since 2000.

Private medium- and long-term debt stock in Africa has also been on the increase but not at the same scale and magnitude as the public debt. In short, governments, through their finance ministries, have been on a borrowing binge since 2000, whereas the private sector has marginally increased its borrowings in United States-denominated debt.

The increased levels of borrowing in hard currency badly expose governments to movements in interest rates and exchange rates. South Africa has the most external debt exposure of any country in Africa, followed by Egypt and Nigeria. With these facts in mind, it is no surprise to how much the Rand, the South African currency unit, has depreciated against the dollar.

Zimbabwe’s economic and currency woes run much deeper than the finance minister can allude to. For starters, the country heavily relies on imports; it produces little in the form of manufactured goods for exports. This means that the country’s means of generating income in the form of foreign exchange consist largely of producing and selling raw goods with no value addition.

This phenomenon constrains the country’s ability to generate the foreign exchange it is in desperate need of to help underscore the value of its currency. This is perhaps the biggest stumbling block to the universal adoption and warm reception of the Zimbabwe dollar.

Zimbabwe’s citizens have had unpleasant experiences with the Zimbabwe dollar even before it collapsed in 2009. The country’s citizens have seen numerous bank failures with their savings and receiving no compensation for their losses. This was in 2004 when the banking crisis claimed the scalps of all but a handful of local/indigenous banks. In 2006 the central bank raided the foreign currency accounts of the largest exporters in the country. The foreign exchange, it is said, was used to finance the government and political expenditures.