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COVID19: African Leaders to Jointly Seek Loan Waivers

As part of efforts to mitigate against the adverse effects of the global Coronavirus pandemic, African governments have resolved to unite in pushing for loan waivers.

The resolution was made recently during a virtual meeting of the Bureau of the African Union Heads of State and Government.

The leaders said foreign debt is a common challenge for all African countries and agreed to forge a common front in asking bilateral and multilateral partners to waive loans that African countries owe.

They noted that Africa needs an economic stimulus package since the slowdown in economic activities occasioned by the Coronavirus outbreak will cost the continent jobs and affect incomes of vulnerable populations.

The total confirmed coronavirus cases in Africa were 9,867 as of Tuesday morning.

947 have recovered from the virus while 482 victims did not survive.

Many African countries remain in a lockdown, leading to disastrous effects on trade and movement of persons.

In 1996, the World Bank and the IMF launched the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative in response to accumulation of unsustainable, developing-country debt in the 1970s and 1980s.

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It called for voluntary debt relief from all creditors, and gave eligible countries a fresh start on foreign debt that had placed too great a burden on resources for debt service.

In 2006, recognizing that countries that had graduated from HIPC were struggling to make progress towards the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a second phase of debt relief was launched to help meet these goals. This is known as the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI), which offered full debt relief for eligible debt from the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), the IMF, the African Development Fund and the Inter-American Development Bank held by low-income countries that have completed the HIPC process. Combined, the MDRI and HIPC initiatives have provided around USD 99 billion in debt relief.

ChimpReports understands that African Leaders further called for collaboration from international partners and the private sector in rolling out measures to mitigate against the adverse effects of the pandemic.

President Kenyatta, who took part in the teleconference convened by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, said Africa should step up its Coronavirus testing capacity.

He said mass testing will be the only sure way of stopping the spread of the virus.

“As a continent we need to focus on expanding our testing capacity to enable us conduct mass testing as this is the only sure way we will manage this problem,” the Kenyan leader said.

President Kenyatta also underscored the need for African countries to support each other.

“Let us buy from each other what we can make on our continent even as we seek help from our international partners,” said President Kenyatta.

On intra-Africa trade, the African Heads of State and Government agreed that there is need to keep their territorial borders open for distribution of supplies as this will enable populations to continue having an inhibited access to key commodities such as food and medicines.

The African leaders however underscored the need to ensure that the free movement of goods across the continent does not aid the spread of the infectious disease.

They tasked their respective ministers of transport and health to establish appropriate safeguard measures.

Experiences

Further, the Heads of State and Government resolved to enhance the sharing of experiences on the management of the disease and resources noting that African countries need to support each other now more than ever.

President Emmanuel Macron of France who took part in the virtual meeting as a guest backed African leader’s position saying the continent deserves an economic stimulus package.

He says said the stimulus package will ensure African economies bounce back after the pandemic.

The French leader suggested that African leaders consider a humanitarian approach to the stimulus proposal saying it will ensure people have access to basic needs such as food, shelter and water.

Speaking at the meeting, also attended by WHO Director General Dr Tedros Adhanon, Africa Centre for Disease Control (Africa CDC) Director General Dr John Nkengasong called on African countries to intensify the isolation, testing and treatment of Coronavirus victims so as to curb its spread.

On his part, Dr Tedros assured the Heads of State and Government of the World Health Organisation’s continued support for Africa in the fight against the Coronavirus pandemic.

Presidents Macky Sall (Senegal), Emmerson Mnangagwa (Zimbabwe), Felix Tshisekedi (DR Congo), Paul Kagame (Rwanda), Abdel Fattah el-Sisi (Egypt), Ibrahim Boubacar Keita (Mali) and Prime Minister of Ethiopia Abiy Ahmed participated in the teleconference.

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