African countries trained to manage public debt using new Commonwealth system

20 December 2022

Senior officials from Eastern and Southern Africa have received hands-on training to manage their public debt using the Commonwealth’s new debt management system.

The Commonwealth Secretariat facilitated the training in Mozambique from 12 to 16 December in partnership with the Macroeconomic and Financial Management Institute for Eastern and Southern Africa to equip 25 officials from eight countries in recording, analysing and reporting debt data using the new debt management system, Commonwealth Meridian.

Officials from ministries of finance and central banks benefited from a five-day programme for transitioning to Commonwealth Meridian and learned how to use the web-based software to monitor compliance with debt strategies, mitigate operational risks and uphold data integrity.

Public debt

Debt officials from Eswatini, Kenya, Lesotho, Namibia and Tanzania - which recently migrated to Commonwealth Meridian - also spoke about the benefits of using the new software and ways to mitigate the post-transition challenges.

Opening the training, Domingos Lambo, Permanent Secretary of Mozambique’s Ministry Of Economy and Finance, said the workshop comes at a time when the world is grappling with multiple challenges, adding: “These developments have heightened public debts in many developing countries.”

He continued: “The knowledge and skills you gain from this training will help you maintain comprehensive, accurate and timely public debt databases in your countries, as this is a prerequisite for efficient debt management operations.”

Speaking after the training, Mac Banda, Adviser at the Secretariat’s Debt Management Unit, said: “The risks of unsustainable debt become a real challenge as income streams disappear due to the ongoing economic slowdown and frequent climate-related disasters. This hampers the government’s ability to finance basic services such as health and much-needed programmes to achieve development objectives.”

Mac Banda added: “This training is the latest in a series of initiatives by the Secretariat to assist member countries with prudent public debt management. It will go a long way in helping countries manage their debt using Commonwealth Meridian, which in turn will help them alleviate debt burdens and lead to better standards of living.”

Financial stability

During the training, officials also commended the Secretariat for assisting its member countries in managing their debt portfolios, which, they said, contributed to financial stability.

“Using Commonwealth Meridian has been a great experience,” said Lihle Dlamini, Senior Finance Officer at Eswatini’s Ministry of Finance. “The aggregate function is such a powerful new tool in Meridian that gives us the ability to generate custom reports suited for our periodic reporting.”

From Kenya, which has been using the Secretariat’s debt management system for more than three decades, Senior Debt Management Officer Salim Mwabundu said Meridian has made his work easier by offering ready-made templates for the recording of financial instruments.

In Mozambique, where the Secretariat’s debt management system has been used as an integral part of macro-economic management and is used for budgeting and debt analysis, among other things.

Antonio M. Gravata, Debt Officer from Mozambique, said: “This training has been beneficial as we prepare to migrate to the Meridian system… The Portuguese version of Meridian will address a major challenge we have had. This will also improve the quality of recording and the information that can be produced.”

First developed by the Secretariat in 1985, the system, which is currently used by more than 50 countries to manage a combined portfolio of USD 2.5 trillion of public debt, is a flagship part of the Commonwealth’s debt management programme.

Listen to our expert discuss this training on Channel Africa

Media contact

  • Snober Abbasi Senior Communications Officer, Communications Division, Commonwealth Secretariat
  • T: +442077476168 | E-mail