African leaders plead for debt recess as continent fights Covid-19

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By Leopold Munhende

AFRICAN leaders have called on international financiers who include World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) to either defer payment of debt or immediately suspend interest on loans as countries find themselves channelling unbudgeted resources towards fighting the Covid-19 scourge.

This was agreed upon in a teleconference meeting of the African Union Bureau of Heads of State and Government held Friday.

Heads of State including President Emmerson Mnangagwa also emphasised the need for the IMF to increase the amount of money African countries could withdraw.

“Cognizant of the devastating socio-economic and political impact of the pandemic on African countries, Bureau reiterated the need for rapid and concrete support as pledged by the G20 and other international partners, including the World Bank and IMF.

“It is critical that these institutions review their current disbursement policies to display flexibility and speed, including raising the availability of IMF Special drawing Rights (SDRs),” reads the AU communique.

“The Bureau also echoed the call for a comprehensive stimulus package for Africa, including, deferred payments, the immediate suspension of interest payments on Africa’s external public and private debt in order to create fiscal space for Covid-19 response measures.”

Africa has a debt of over US$100 billion owed to various financial institutions in the world, mainly in Europe and America.

They owe China over US$30 billion, according to a report by Jubilee Debt Campaign.

The continent now has more than 4 700 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 127 deaths and efforts to contain the virus are affecting business in each country.

Threats of food insecurity have arisen especially in Sub-Saharan Africa which is experiencing one of its worst droughts due to El Nino and was set to be in need of aid right into 2021 before the pandemic broke out.

Currently, more than a third of the world is implementing some measures to contain the Coronavirus which has claimed over 58 000 lives so far.

Zimbabwe this Sunday entered Day-7 of a government imposed national lockdown to try and contain the spread of coronavirus that has since claimed one life among nine confirmed cases past 16 days.