Heavily Indebted Poor Countries

Heavily Indebted Poor Country (HIPC)

The heavily indebted developing countries (also named "poor" countries) are a subgroup of the developing countries defined by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The aim of this classification in 1999 was debt relief proposed by the G8 countries, initiated by Germany.

Of the current 36 countries, most are in Africa. A total of about 794.81 million people live in affected countries, which corresponds to 10.07 percent of the world's population.
world map Heavily Indebted Poor Countries
CountryPopulationGNI per capitaHuman Development IndexDebts
Afghanistan40.1 M390 USD0.47815.0%
Benin13.0 M1,350 USD0.52539.0%
Bolivia12.1 M3,290 USD0.69240.6%
Burkina Faso22.1 M830 USD0.44955.0%
Burundi12.6 M220 USD0.42633.2%
Cameroon27.2 M1,590 USD0.57636.1%
Central African Republic5.5 M480 USD0.40441.5%
Chad17.2 M640 USD0.39434.6%
Comoros0.8 M1,580 USD0.55825.5%
Democratic Republic of the Congo95.9 M550 USD0.47919.8%
Ethiopia120.3 M940 USD0.49827.1%
Gambia2.6 M740 USD0.50053.0%
Ghana32.8 M2,280 USD0.63247.8%
Guinea13.5 M1,020 USD0.46533.6%
Guinea-Bissau2.1 M760 USD0.48367.8%
Guyana0.8 M9,410 USD0.71426.6%
Haiti11.4 M1,430 USD0.53512.4%
Honduras10.3 M2,490 USD0.62145.3%
Ivory Coast27.5 M2,420 USD0.55044.0%
Liberia5.2 M630 USD0.48156.4%
Madagascar28.9 M490 USD0.50137.3%
Malawi19.9 M620 USD0.51225.7%
Mali21.9 M820 USD0.42834.8%
Mauritania4.6 M1,950 USD0.55659.2%
Mozambique32.1 M480 USD0.446398.6%
Nicaragua6.9 M1,950 USD0.667108.8%
Niger25.3 M590 USD0.40032.8%
Republic of the Congo5.8 M1,970 USD0.57170.5%
Rwanda13.5 M840 USD0.53482.9%
Sao Tome and Principe0.2 M2,260 USD0.61855.4%
Senegal16.9 M1,570 USD0.511107.0%
Sierra Leone8.4 M500 USD0.47760.5%
Tanzania63.6 M1,100 USD0.54942.2%
Togo8.6 M960 USD0.53941.1%
Uganda45.9 M760 USD0.52548.3%
Zambia19.5 M1,030 USD0.565124.7%

Criteria for admission

Before being included in the debt relief initiative, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund lay down strict criteria. The aim is to cancel debts only for those states that are already heavily indebted and are in all likelihood unable to pay these liabilities on their own. On the other hand, these states should also have the ability to grow out of poverty after a waiver. A state must therefore not only be particularly poor, but must also fulfil certain conditions at the political level.

These conditions are usually determined and monitored over several years in a three-stage process. Eritrea, Somalia and Sudan, for example, have been on the list for some time now of countries that fulfil the conditions of poverty. None of these three countries has so far been able to convincingly demonstrate or even show that the government is also capable of fighting poverty. To achieve this, it is also necessary to implement effective reforms in advance and to demonstrate success.

Doubts about sustainability

The aim of the initiative is to reduce poverty in the affected countries and to enable governments to stand on their own two feet through debt relief. The reform programs controlled by the community are designed to achieve effective action. An already economically weakened country may also use this debt relief to borrow money again from other states and not pay it back either.

Another injustice is that individual countries are rewarded with debt relief even though they have not managed to stand on their own two feet, while the countries that are just above the poverty line because their reforms have been successful are not rewarded.

Key figures in comparison

(All figures weighted according to population share.)
 Heavily Indebted Poor CountriesWorldUSA
Total population794.8 m7.9 bn331.9 m
GNP per capita1,024 USD12,023 USD70,930 USD
Government debt (% of GDP)58.7 %93.9 %115.3 %
Expenditure on education (% of GDP)3.8 %4.3 %6.1 %
Unemployment rate5.1 %6.2 %5.5 %
Literacy rate65.5 %86.8 %0.0 %
Electricity access45.8 %90.4 %100.0 %
Birth rate35.4 ‰17.2 ‰10.9 ‰
Life expectancy62.7 years72.3 years77.3 years

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Least developed countriesList of the 47 Least Developed CountriesDefinition and list of the 47 countries of the fourth world with inhabitants, geographical classification and further information
Developing countriesList of 152 developing countriesList of all 152 developing countries with below-average living standards