ECA calls for $100bn G20 support for Africa amid coronavirus crisis

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THE Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) has called on the leaders of the Group of 20 (G20) to the coronavirus in Africa.

The ECA said nations to provide $100bn, in addition to the $50bn already committed, to fund emergency responses the money would go to ‘immediate health response, social safety nets for the most vulnerable, feeding for out-of-school children, and to protect jobs’.

‘As a proportion of GDP this is consistent with measures taken in other regions,’ the Addis Ababa-based ECA said.

‘To ensure immediate fiscal space and liquidity, this package should include a waiver of all interest payments, estimated at $44bn for 2020.’

An ECA statement said: ‘This is a global crisis affecting the whole world.

‘Africa, however, will be hit harder with a heavy and durable economic toll, which will threaten progress and prospects, widen inequalities between and within countries, and worsen current fragilities.

‘African countries need support in preparing for the health crisis, and for the economic fallout.

‘The measures being taken in Asia, Europe and North America such as physical (social) distancing and regular hand washing will be a particular challenge for countries with limited internet connectivity, dense populations, unequal access to water and limited social safety nets.

‘In line with the steps being taken across the globe, African countries are preparing for the worst effects of this pandemic,’ the ECA added.

It outlined a number of measures that the G20 should implement to aid Africa, such as ‘open trade corridors, especially for pharmaceuticals and other health supplies, as well as support for the upgrade of health infrastructure and provide direct support to existing facilities.’

This would help countries ‘to focus on prevention as much as possible and start building curative facilities.’

The ECA also called on G20 leaders ‘to support public health campaigns and access to information including through an expedited private sector partnership for internet connectivity.’

It said this would ‘enable economic activity to continue during social distancing measures and to support the effective sharing of information about the pandemic.’

The ECA also wants ‘an immediate emergency economic stimulus to African governments in their efforts to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.’

The statement added: ‘G20 leaders should support a waiver on principal and interest for African Fragile States such as the Sahel, Central African Republic and others who are already struggling with the burden of debt and have limited fiscal space.’

The ECA said there should be ‘enhanced predictability, transparency and accountability of financial flows so finance ministers can plan effectively and civil society stakeholders can help track flows to ensure reach those most in need.’

On the employment front, the ECA said the G20 should ‘implement emergency measures to protect 30 million jobs immediately at risk across the continent, particularly in the tourism and airline sectors.’

The ECA also called for G20 support for the continent’s agricultural, pharmaceutical and banking sectors.

‘An extended credit facility, refinancing schemes and guarantee facilities should be used to waive, restructure and provide additional liquidity in 2020,’ the ECA said.

‘G20 leaders should support a liquidity line available to the private sector operating in Africa to ensure essential purchases can continue and all SMEs [small and medium enterprises] dependent on trade can continue to function.’

 

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