Africa: COVID-19 - Africa Needs At Least U.S.$100 Billion Stimulus

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African and European Heads of State have said that a huge economic stimulus package of at least $100bn is needed to give African countries the fiscal space they need to devote more public health resources to fighting the coronavirus, while mitigating its economic and social consequences.

The message was echoed on Wednesday, April 15, in an article signed by about 18 African and European leaders calling for strong international leadership, shared responsibility and solidarity in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

President Paul Kagame was among the signatories.

In the statement, the presidents urged that if the pandemic hits Africa particularly hard, it will prolong the global crisis; therefore making a case for international efforts to assist Africa.

"This crisis has shown how interconnected we all are. No region can win the battle against Covid-19 alone. If it is not beaten in Africa, it will return to haunt us all. So let us work together, including with our G7 and G20 partners, to end the pandemic everywhere and build resilient health systems to keep our peoples safe in the future. This is not the time for division or politics but for unity and co-operation."

"We must deploy a huge economic stimulus package of at least $100bn, as has been assessed by Africa's finance ministers and the UN. The aim is to give African countries the fiscal space they need to devote more public health resources to fighting the virus, while mitigating its economic and social consequences."

Urging that effective containment measures carry huge costs to health systems, economies and livelihoods, they called for efforts to boost Africa's emergency health response capacity by providing immediate support to its public health systems.

In particular, the leaders urged the World Bank, the IMF, the African Development Bank, the New Development Bank and other regional institutions to use all available instruments and to revisit access policies and quota limitations so that low income countries can fully benefit from their support.

"We must instate an immediate moratorium on all bilateral and multilateral debt payments, both public and private, until the pandemic has passed," the statement read.

"To support this process and provide additional liquidity for the procurement of basic commodities and essential medical supplies, the IMF must decide immediately on the allocation of special drawing rights.

We also ask that all of Africa's development partners ring fence their development aid budgets. We must answer the UN secretary-general's call for an ambitious humanitarian initiative for Africa, based on the Covid-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan, and deliver vital food and logistical supplies to communities most affected by lockdowns, social distancing and high contamination rates," it continued.

For Africa's part, the leaders said that the governments, medics, scientists and local communities have valuable experience in containing outbreaks, and most countries have already taken forceful action to slow the spread of the virus and they are ready to do more.

They also called for support towards a pan-African scientific and political mechanism that will co-ordinate African expertise with the global response led by the World Health Organization, and ensure a fair allocation of tests, treatments and vaccines as they become available.

Besides President Kagame, other signatories were among others; Abiy Ahmed Prime Minister of Ethiopia; Guiseppe Conte, prime minister of Italy; António Costa, prime minister of Portugal; Moussa Faki, African Union Commission chair; Uhuru Kenyatta, president of Kenya; Pedro Sánchez, prime minister of Spain; Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, president of Egypt; Felix Tshisekedi, president of Democratic Republic of Congo among others.

Currently, Africa has over 10,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and the death toll is at 520, according to World Health Organisation.

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