UN Report: 46 Nations Designated as Least Developed, with High Debt Burdens

November 8, 2023

While Africa hosts most of the least developed countries, Asia is home to nine, with three in the Pacific and one in the Caribbean.
A girl sits with her baby sibling around pets at Durumi Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camp in Abuja, Nigeria on May 24, 2023. Civilians displaced due to increasing security problems in northeast Nigeria, are struggling to survive in makeshift tents. Photo by Anadolu Images.


ccording to the latest report from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), 46 countries have been designated as the least developed economies, with the majority, 33, located in Africa. The UN agency announced this classification on Tuesday, November 7, highlighting that these nations are now eligible for various concessions including preferential market access, aid, and special technical assistance to help bolster their technological capabilities.

While Africa hosts most of the least developed countries, Asia is home to nine, with three in the Pacific and one in the Caribbean. UNCTAD’s 2023 report also showcased a modest success story; only six nations have ascended from the least developed country status to date.

These include Botswana, Cabo Verde, Maldives, Samoa, Equatorial Guinea, and Vanuatu, with graduation dates spanning from December 1994 to December 2020.

Precarious financial situation

However, the financial situation for these countries remains precarious. In 2021, debt service charges for these economies surged to an alarming $27 billion, marking a 37% increase from $20 billion the previous year.

The report strikingly notes that these countries are allocating nearly twice as much on debt service as they are on healthcare and education combined.

The strain on their finances is attributed to multiple global crises, including the climate emergency, increasing debt burdens, reliance on commodity exports, and waning foreign investment. These challenges are impeding their journey towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly the transition to a low-carbon economy.

Comprehensive measures needed

UNCTAD called for comprehensive measures to address the economic and social challenges faced by the least developed countries, stressing the need for a sustainable and multilateral approach to the debt dilemma.

The report emphasized the critical function of domestic institutions, especially central banks, in spurring the mobilization of national resources. It also stresses the importance of redirecting financial flows towards initiatives that promote green structural changes within these vulnerable nations.

The UN body’s report serves as a clarion call for international cooperation to ensure that the least developed countries can navigate out of their financial predicaments while working towards an environmentally sustainable and economically viable future.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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