Ramaphosa calls on World Bank to provide relief to highly indebted African countries

President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Participating in a virtual G20 Leaders’ Summit Meeting on Thursday, he said the G20 leaders were united in fighting the virus, saving lives and supporting economies that are under stress.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has called on the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, the African Development Bank and other institutions to provide debt relief to highly indebted countries.

“Africa has called upon the countries of the developed economies to support stimulus packages to have debt relief from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) so that countries are able to halt their interest payment and focus on fighting the coronavirus,” the President said.

Participating in a virtual G20 Leaders’ Summit Meeting on Thursday, Ramaphosa said the G20 leaders were united in fighting the virus, saving lives and supporting economies that are under stress.

“We have a disease that is spreading throughout the world, as countries of the world we need to unite and fight this common enemy. We are supportive of efforts that are going to lead to sharing of information, working together from a research point of view so that we combine resources as we possibly can,” he said.

The president said the continent was concerned with the possibility of shortages in medical supplies.

“As Africa, we are concerned about the possible shortages of medicines, protective products and vaccines as factories close or countries retain supplies for their own consumption.

“It is vital that we coordinate efforts to increase global production and improve the availability of medical products and equipment.

“Given the limited health infrastructure in Africa and the reality that most of the pharmaceuticals and medical supplies consumed on the continent are imported, we call on the international community to encourage open trade corridors, especially for pharmaceuticals and other health supplies.”

Ramapohosa said Africa and its leaders needed to safeguard the global economy.

“This pandemic is going to worsen the economic situations of many African economies. It will reverse the gains that many countries have made in recent years.

“We need to ensure trade and investment flows are not adversely disrupted.

“At the continental level Covid-19 is already having a devastating impact on many countries and in this regard, many African economies need a robust economic stimulus package.

“African central banks, including the South African Reserve Bank, have responded through stimulus measures, such as rate cuts, among others, to provide liquidity. But these efforts need support.

The president said the international countries needed to demonstrate solidarity with Africa through financial support measures.

“These measures should both support the continent’s immediate humanitarian needs and place the continent on a path of economic recovery.

“Given that a third of sub-Saharan African countries are in debt distress or at risk of debt distress, the waiver of all interest payments on bilateral and multilateral loans would help. This would give fiscal space and liquidity to governments.

“We encourage the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, the African Development Bank and other institutions to provide debt relief to highly indebted countries.

“We need solidarity and international collaboration.”

Ramaphosa said multilateralism was even more important today to protect citizens in every part of the world and urged G20 countries to raise funds to tackle the pandemic.

“The African Union Bureau met this morning and decided to give meaning to the concept of solidarity by establishing the African Coronavirus Fund to help fund Africa’s work in fighting this virus.

“A few African countries were able to raise $20 million in just 30 minutes.

“We invite G20 countries to support this African initiative by donating to this fund.”

He praised the G20 leaders for their efforts in fighting the pandemic.

“Fifteen years ago, when confronted by the challenge of HIV/AIDS, President Nelson Mandela asked: ‘When the history of our times is written, will we be remembered as the generation that turned our backs in a moment of global crisis or will it be recorded that we did the right thing.’

“I am certain that when the history of our times is written, it will reflect on today’s meeting and will record that the leaders of the G20 did the right thing,” he concluded.

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