Politics, Health, Africa

COVID-19: Ethiopia premier seeks debt relief for Africa

Abiy Ahmed urges G20 countries to provide $150B financing package, African finance ministers call for $100B

Addis Getachew   | 24.03.2020
COVID-19: Ethiopia premier seeks debt relief for Africa

Addis Abeba

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia

Ethiopia’s prime minister has put forward a three-point proposal on how G20 countries can help African countries cope with the coronavirus pandemic.

The first point of the plan proposed by Abiy Ahmed calls for a $150 billion aid package -- Africa Global COVID-19 Emergency Financing Package.

The amount, according to the proposal posted on the Ethiopian premier’s Twitter account, should be in the form of supplementary budgetary support and private sector financing.

The second point is that G20 nations should provide support to the World Health Organization (WHO) and Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to strengthen public health delivery and emergency preparedness on the continent.

Lastly, Ahmed’s proposal requests G20 countries to implement debt reduction and restructuring plans, reminding world leaders that “a global approach and strategy” is needed to stop the coronavirus pandemic.

Call for coordination

Finance ministers of several African countries, who met in Addis Ababa on Monday, called for a coordinated response to mitigate the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Africa needs an immediate emergency economic stimulus to the tune of US$100 billion,” read a press release by the UN Economic Commission for Africa that referred to decisions taken at the ministerial meeting.

“As such, the waiver of all interest payments, estimated at US$44 billion for 2020, and the possible extension of the waiver to the medium term, would provide immediate fiscal space and liquidity to the Governments, in their efforts to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the statement added.

“The interest payments waiver should include not only interest payments on public debt but also on sovereign bonds.”

For “fragile” states, the ministers agreed on the need to consider waiving principal and interest and encourage the use of existing facilities in the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), African Development Bank (AfDB) and other regional institutions.

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