Ramaphosa calls for debt relief for African countries

Ramaphosa calls for debt relief for African countries

President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses SA National Defence Force (SANDF) members before their deployment ahead of the national Covid-19 shutdown, Pretoria, 26 March 2020. Picture: GCIS

He also called on the international community to encourage open trade corridors, especially for pharmaceuticals and other health supplies.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has urged the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and the African Development Bank to waive interest payments for indebted African countries in light of the coronavirus crisis.

The president, on the eve of the lockdown coming into force on Friday, told the G20 Extraordinary Leaders’ Summit that the international community needed to demonstrate solidarity with Africa through financial support measures.

He suggested that they must provide debt relief in the form of interest payment waivers to enable the countries to focus on the fight against Covid-19.

He said the 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,” he said.

As most of the pharmaceuticals and medical supplies consumed on the continent were imported, Ramaphosa called on the international community to encourage open trade corridors, especially for pharmaceuticals and other health supplies.

He said “multilateralism was even more important today” to protect world citizens.

“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,” he said.

“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.”

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