Understanding Sovereign Debt in Africa

Understanding Sovereign Debt Produced with African Legal Support Facility, March 18-22, 2019

We are pleased to announce Understanding Sovereign Debt, produced in a Book Sprint in February 2019 organised by the African Legal Support Facility (ASLF). The book is intended to empower public debt managers and anyone involved in public debt and financial management in Africa by demystifying complex concepts and terminology and providing a practical guide.

ALSF Sovereign Debt Book Sprint


This Book Sprint, facilitated by Faith, emerged out of a longer relationship between Book Sprints and ASLF. The Sprint was organised by Toyin Ojo who we first met in 2014 during the Book Sprint to produce the handbook ‘Understanding Power Purchase Agreements’. That book had a very ambitious goal: to educate government ministers in emerging markets about ‘power purchase agreements’, the highly technical legal contracts for the sale of power. To produce that book we had to create consensus within a large group of highly specialized and very opinionated contract lawyers. They could debate terminology for hours. The Sprint process worked really well though and they wrote an excellent book which ended up in the hands of governments officials all over Africa. Two more books on power purchase agreements were written through Sprints after that. See our follow-up story interviewing Toyin and Badissy about the success of these books here.

Toyin, in that Sprint, played the vital role of the ‘target reader’ which is never an easy feat. The people who play target readers essentially take on the responsibility of the final product. Once all the text has been written and has been reviewed a good few times by all the contributors, the target readers go through the text from start to finish and create a unified voice. They make decisions on message, tone, and style; they cut, they reword, they refine. Toyin had come over from the UK and was totally jetlagged, waking up at three in the morning and going to bed at midnight. Still, she powered through that whole text, in a state of utter calm, and still managed to laugh and have a good time. It was very impressive.

So, here we met again 5 years later for a Book Sprint she had conceptualised and spearheaded. Again there was a total powerhouse of expertise in that room. People who took the time out from their billing-by-the-minute professions to lose sleep, face criticism from their peers and take orders from our facilitators. Again, it resulted in a valuable book.

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