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Why The Debt Crisis In Greece Is Not So Far From Africa

Why The Debt Crisis In Greece Is Not So Far From Africa

For many people living in Africa the economic tragedy in Greece is a far away story that does not resonate with them. But nothing can be far from the truth.

Sunday’s referendum in Greece overwhelmingly went against terms of a bailout that would have seen the country remain in the European Union and receive a conditional bailout for other nations of the union.

The NO vote was the biggest blow to Europe’s monetary union since the EU was launched in 1999 as it now may force European powers Germany and France to consider debt relief for Greece, a prospect they have rejected because their banks are the most exposed to Greece’s dud loans.

After the vote, stock markets globally fell as fear of the Greece contagion spreading to the rest of Europe gripped investors.

But does all have to do with Africa?

For starters Europe is Africa’s largest export market for countries that produce cash crops such as Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya and Ivory Coast. The region is also the largest source of tourists to African destinations.

With the Euro weakening against the US dollar many of  Africa’s agricultural exports will suffer and fewer tourists from European countries will stream to the national parks and beaches across the continent.

“Many emerging and frontier market currencies may come under short-term selling pressure,” Razia Khan, chief economist in charge of Africa global research at Standard Chartered Bank Plc told The East African.

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Many African currencies have already come under pressure in the first half of this year mainly due to a stronger dollar and fall in commodity prices which are the major revenue source for many countries on the continent.

According to David Shapiro, deputy chairman at Sasfin, African countries have so far reacted well t the Greece crisis because it has been a long time coming giving many governments time to prepare.

Yra Harris, partner at Praxis Training, however feel that the Greece referendum could become contagious in the EU block with more countries going for referendum on whether they want to bail out Greece or not.

“The problem with a referendum is that it becomes contagious because no one has asked the German people whether they want to absorb the cost of being the main predator in Europe,” Harris told CNBC Africa.

“It’s going to be a spill-out effect where everyone wants a referendum in Europe and that becomes very dangerous for the elite.

Aly-Khan Satchu, an independent analysts based in Nairobi, also concurred with Harris saying “There is an enormous correlation and a high spill-over risk.”