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Last Updated: Friday, 24 June, 2005, 14:38 GMT 15:38 UK
Does debt help you or hold you back?

counting CFA franc notes
Many Africans use the services of money lenders

From the 6-8 July, leaders of the seven leading industrialised nations and Russia also known as the G8, will be meeting in Scotland to talk about about debt relief for Africa.

Ahead of that meeting, Africa Live is bringing the topic down to the grassroots level to find out how debt affects you.

Debt is a fact of life for many people in Africa, whether it is small loans from family members or larger commercial loans to start a business.

In some countries, civil servants and other professionals are only able to survive from one payday to the next because they suppliment the family income by borrowing.

But being in debt is not always viewed as a positive thing in Africa.

So if you have ever had cause to take a loan either from a bank or from a money lender, BBC Africa Live asks:

What difference has it made to your life? Do you think debt is morally wrong?

Has a loan helped you to start a business, and become succesful or are you in so much debt that you cannot repay it?

Is your debt a weight around your neck, or has a loan been the boost that has made your fortune?

Join the BBC's Africa Live debate on Wednesday 29 June at 1630 & 1830GMT.

Use the form to send us your comments - some of which will be published below.

If you would like to take part in the discussion, e-mail us with your telephone number, which will not be published.


Your Comments:

The problem with our African people is that some have never learned the moral of paying back
Collins C. Cameroonian

As youths we sometimes borrow money from our parents and they willingly give us. The problem with our African people is that some have never learned the moral of paying back. We always seem to ask more than we need and then paying back becomes an issue!
Collins C. Cameroonian in UK

The real tragedy is that the donor countries don't give developing countries access to their markets. If the EU, Japan and USA would truly open their markets to agriculture products from developing countries, it would have a much greater benefit than all of the aid money ever donated to these countries. Aid must be backed up by trade!
Michael Elkin, USA

Good debts are necessary for some people and bad debts are bad for all. A good debt has no strings attached and is used to produce something productive. Bad debts are used to destroy and that is the case in Africa and other developing coutries.
Ibrahim Omer, Canada

I feel like a liability each time I am in debt, some piece of merchandise that is at the mercy of my lender
Israel Ambe Ayongwa, Cameroon

I really hate debts in all its forms, even when I am indebted to my parents or my friends. Worst still to be indebted to a lending institution like a bank or a meeting group like 'njangi'. Personally, I consider being indebted as an impediment that cannot give me peace of mind. I feel guilty each time I see my lender even when he is not seeking a refund of his money. I feel like a liability each time I am in debt, some piece of merchandise that is at the mercy of my lender. Although a member of a 'njangi' group or rotating savings and credit association I have 'benefitted' from credit to prop up my meagre earnings, but it has not been easy repaying it. So, I consider a debt as an evil though a necessary one
Israel Ambe Ayongwa, Cameroon

Debt is not morally wrong but it may make you lose your pride, dignity and self-respect. People borrow for various reasons and sometimes live a false life in order to pretend that things are alright or to meet some fallacious class standards. Personally,I don't like debt and have not borrowed. I always like to live within my means which makes me happy and progressive in my endeavours.
Enwere Corlivics, South Africa

Debt in its truest sense helps to solve problems,but it can also be a problem when the debtor and the creditor are not honest to themselves. Yes, it helps in the spirit of honesty. Yes, it holds back in the spirit of exploitation.
Actebeouson Trembo Nyema, Liberia

Its said that he who goes aborrowing goes asorrowing. People don't go into debt as a way of life. To have creditors waiting for you on payday to colect all your earnings is demeaning. Now why can't the G8 give Africa an open market without barriers so we can earn good money for our produce?
John Mensah, UK

I guess the strings most often attached to some of these loans make debt wrong and immoral
Anny Osabutey, Ghana

I had to go in for a loan of close to $250 to pay for my fees, before I could complete my bachelors degree. That money really saved me. I guess the strings most often attached to some of these loans make debt wrong and immoral
Anny Osabutey, Ghana

Taking a loan sometimes helps in emergency situations but making it a way of life like African leaders do, to me, is disgusting especially where it is taken to finance frivolous things. I believe debt does more of holding back than helping. It is better to make do with what you have than to go into debt. Living within your means, however meagre, makes you a master of yourself.
Oyamendan Azonabor, Nigeria

Well I think debt is just not an African problem, infact in the western world most individuals are in heavy debts which they keep paying year after year - I am talking of credit cards. I thank God at least where I am right now there are no credit cards. Imagine what will happen when you have to pay back the normal traditional styled money you have borrowed from a friend or relative and on the other hand the debt you owe to banks and credit cards inclusive of the astronomical interest rates!!
Abdulqadir Abdulhameed, Nigeria

What is not okay is when you borrow 12 billion dollars, repay 22 billion but still owe 32 billion dollars
Dan Okereke, Nigeria

Debt is okay, the west was built on credit, don't forget. What is not okay however is when you borrow 12 billion dollars, repay 22 billion but still owe 32 billion dollars. That makes debt a real death trap and gives the international capitalist system a satanic face. That's Nigeria's lot today.
Dan Okereke, Nigeria

I personally do not like borrowing money and prefer always to save for what I want. I have, however, once had to take a loan from our staff welfare association to help a family member offset some expenses. It saved me the trouble of being broke for the time it would have taken her to pay back, and it saved our kinship ties. A loan is good when taken with a clear objective for what the money is to be spent on, how it will be repaid, and with a plan B for how to settle the loan should the original repayment plan fail to bear fruit. I am often baffled when I hear people telling friends..."I hear your loan application came through...how about we celebrate with it a little...!" It makes me wonder what some people take loans for.
Jane, Kenya

There are many people in life that built wealth on borrowed money. For me it is ok as long as you assure effective management of the money that borrow and reimburse it on the agreed deadline. Moreover loan should be for investment or to purchase goods that you cannot afford with your salary, and not for daily expenses.
Ailton Muchave, Mozambique

To owe is to be enslaved no matter how noble the cause of your borrowing may appear. Countries and individuals who opt to borrow in order to make ends meet can not hold their heads high. Each time the creditors mention anyting to do with debts, it feels like the whole world is focusing on you.
Shuttie F.N.Libuta, Kitwe Zambia/Central Africa

Borrowing is like gambling - you either succumb to it or make a fortune out of it
Kisanya Vincent, Nairobi

Borrowing is like gambling - you either succumb to it or make a fortune out of it. I once borrowed from a cooperative and for three years I was reduced to a slave, getting only a third of my salary with the rest used to repay the loan.
Kisanya Vincent, Nairobi, Kenya

I'm a Sudanese living in United States and my wife and my son are living in Africa. When my family are in need, I borrow money from a bank, and I never care about paying high interest as long as borrowing money saves people lives and is for a purpose.
Pal Gatkuoth Deng, United States

In relation to the issue of debt, I think Africa especially Nigeria, should never be forgiven of this debt. The so called debt was incurred by the same politicians clamouring for forgiveness now. Lets face it, in a country like Nigeria where I come from, I can bet my life that three of our politicians can pay off our country's debt. Lets stop deceiving ourselves and face reality - African leaders should stop accumulating wealth for themselves. Andy Ateli
Andy, England

Who said loans are of no help? Loans help quite a lot! A loan is helpful when the motive of the creditor is geared towards being helpful. But a loan is a selfish tool of control when the creditor's inner motive is to exploit and control its debtor.
C, Uturu, Nigeria

What is better than using someone's money and your idea to do business?
Henok, Ethiopian

What is better than using someone's money and your idea to do business? I advise everybody I know to take their business one step forward by borrowing money instead of waiting in frustration because of a lack of finance.
Henok, Ethiopian/ Boston MA, USA

Having to borrow money and repay later is not big deal. My concern is this: why should a child become a debtor to his father since the child will later take care of the father when the later is approaching old age? Why should a son continue to stand at the door of his father and beg for food?
Celestine-Oscar Evuleocha, Sydney/Australia

The practice of borrowing and lending has been in existence since day one of human history. I personally have benefited from it in a way I could have never imagined in my wildest dreams. I also know individuals, (borrowers) who have lost everything due to their own fault, or due to the economic environment in which they live.
Yohannes, Eritrean-American

Neither lender nor a borrower be. It is very hard to always have enough to cover all. Even the very affluent somehow owe debts to others. But lost loans and lost friends go hand in hand.
A. Change, Bristol

To me as a student, a debt is actually a weight around my neck. Especially as an African who does not have a job with which he can repay this debt.
Egbe Takor Elvis, Cameroon

Of what use is a loan taken from a bank at the rate of 30 percent?
Ola, USA

Of what use is a loan taken from a bank at the rate of 30 percent? Or a loan from a private lender who takes over your cocoa plantation worth thousands of US dollars because you miss one payment on a loan worth twenty US dollars? Banks and private lenders in Africa are predators.
Ola, USA

I think the debt relief by the G8 for some African countries should be seen as a new dawn for Africa's development, especially at the time when some African heads of state are tackling issue of corruptions vigorously. Hopefully we would have some breathing space from our debtors.
Setor Awude, Accra,Ghana

I agree with helping Africa in any way possible. However corruption is the only problem. You have Presidents in Africa who own 50 million homes and drive around in a Bentley. You have Presidents who have a swiss bank account with 100+ million in the bank. I don't quite understand why African goverments don't do anything. It's sad what's happening in Africa. India was the same 20-30 years ago and has now developed, so I hope Africa can do the same.
Neil, UK

If some African countries are sufffering from debts today, I think it is not their fault but the fault of whoever gave them the loan.
Damian Tem, Cameroon

It is preposterous to talk of debt in Africa without considering the wealth of the continent and the greedy ones who benefit
aymond, Philadelphia

When you consider the almost infinte wealth that has been stripped from Africans by foreigners anything the continent receives is not even close to the payback called for. It is preposterous to talk of debt in Africa without considering the wealth of the continent and the greedy ones who benefit. If 10% of that was returned, everyone on the continent would be wealthy beyond words. Debt is a result of the greed of the west.
Raymond, Philadelphia, USA

I live in a small village in northwestern Kenya, and up to today, my fellow villagers are not aware that Kenya is paying a huge sum of money to repay foreign debts. What does this tell you, that the majority of Africans are not part of the deal, but only the elite class?
Joseph Riwongole, Kapenguria, Kenya

Debt relief would just assist the political elite to buy more Mercedes-Benz cars. It is a wrong signal to these corrupt leaders that we have in Africa. The world has given Africa more than twice the amount that USA granted Europe after the World War II. Africa unlike Western Europe has nothing to show for this debt. No nation has ever developed through hand outs.
Nikoi Kotey, USA/Ghana

When I was a child my parent told me that it wasn't good to borrow. Because if you borrow, it's when you're most in need that the lender demands payment.
Stephen S.M. Bendah, Liberian in Ghana

A loan that has been used for the intended purpose is never a weight around someone's neck.
Charles Munamie, Malawi

If not for corrupt politicians in Africa, people like me will not be borrowing to finance our basic needs like food and shelter
Blessing Akiri Young, Liberian

If not for corrupt politicians in Africa, people like me will not be borrowing to finance our basic needs like food and shelter. Our natural resources are more than enough to provide food and housing.
Blessing Akiri Young, Liberian in the U.S.A

My own concept of debt is that it is related to life. There is no way anyone can survive without doing business with someone whether though loan or grant. What I am struggling with is the debt that Africa owes the industrialized countries. How much of this debt is being service by African leaders who by all account are living fabulous lives while their people live in poverty. I strongly think that debt relief for Africa should be based on the reality of African leaders using locally collected revenue for the benefit of their people.
E. Julu Swen, Monrovia, Liberia

Debt kills you.
Peter Kalu-Obuba, Canada

Personally, I do not like to owe debt. It really bothers me. But sometimes you cannot help but to borrow depending on the circumstance you are faced with. Debt is not morally wrong as no condition is permanent. You can be content today and tomorrow be in need. I have borrwed in the past and paid back. Some of the individual lenders charge exurbitant fees when lending to people. Sometimes they require you to use your house as collateral. A cousin of mine lost his parents' house through this.
Omorodion Osula, Boston, USA

Debt like everything in life, it has to be taken in moderation. The more you borrow the deeper the hole. You have to realize the long term consequences rather than the short term gain.
Henock Assefa, Atlanta USA

As an individual who has to borrow to keep body and soul together, I know what it is like not having any money by the time you're done paying your debt . Personally debt makes me broke so I imbibe the culture of living within my means. When I have emergencies, I try to forgo some of my normal expenditures
Rob Shaji, Nigeria

There is nothing morally wrong with borrowing as long as you borrow for the right reason and have the intent and ability to pay back
Joe Abey, Cameroonian

Until I reached America, borrowing for me, was a bad thing.There is nothing morally wrong with borrowing as long as you borrow for the right reason and have the intent and ability to pay back. I own a home and a car I purchased with borrowed money. I wouldn't be able to get the cash to pay for it otherwise.
Joe Abey, Cameroonian-USA

A debt has never been an enemy and it will never be to any body. There is an Ethiopian saying that "advice and debt will help you pass the bad day". Debt is the best way to do business and to make a country grow. The major problem for African countries regarding debt is the wrong way of using the money.
Anonymous,

Debt does not help at all. It is a pain in the neck. I wish that Africans can stop borrowing.
Okpala Odilicukwu, Nigeria residing in Ghana

For any organization, country or person to prosper there should be a future growth plan and the means and desire to implement the plan. African countries debt had become a vicious cyclical plague. Each year their exports would or could not cover the interest payments thus the principal amount would never reduce and would only increase leading to greater debt and misery.
Puneet Guta, India

A loan, a debt entrusted in good hands will never be a weight around one's neck as it'll be used wisely and therefore improve one's condition of living. It is when it's in bad hands that it becomes a burden. Debt is not wrong.
Kapinga Ntumba, Harare, Zimbabwe




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