African finance ministers want International Monetary Fund, World Bank and EU support for bilateral, multilateral and commercial debt relief amid the coronavirus crisis, the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) said.
Africa is facing a perfect storm of an impending global economic downturn, plummeting oil and commodity prices and weaker currencies which threaten to imperil its coronavirus response.
Co-chaired by South African Finance Minister Tito Mboweni and Ken Ofori-Atta of Ghana, the ministers met via video conference on Tuesday. Many wore medical masks, said the UNECA, which hosted the meeting.
“The call for debt relief … should be for all of Africa and should be undertaken in a coordinated and collaborative way,” UNECA said in a statement.
In an initial meeting organised by UNECA last month, ministers called for a US$100 billion stimulus package, including a suspension of debt service payments.
Following Tuesday’s meeting, they said the continent’s development partners should consider debt relief and interest rate forbearance over a two to three-year period for all African low-income and medium-income countries.
They also called for the creation of a special purpose vehicle to “deal with all sovereign debt obligations” though no further details were given as to what shape it would take.
Africa’s confirmed coronavirus cases had climbed to at least 5,300 by Tuesday, with more than 170 recorded deaths, according to a Reuters tally.
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