Africa: UNECA Urges China to Participate in G20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative for Africa

Addis Ababa — Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), Vera Songwe has called on China to honor the pledge made by President Xi Jinping on his country's participation in the G20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) towards supporting Africa's liquidity needs.

Speaking at a webinar co-organized by the Chinese Mission to the African Union and the ECA on Tuesday, Songwe emphasized the need for fiscal space for governments, which she noted is critical for an effective COVID-19 response, as well as job creation through the use of ICT and trade.

"We would go a long way towards supporting Africa's liquidity needs during this difficult time," she said adding "time is of the essence. Countries need resources now."

Songwe pointed out that Africa is losing over 65 billion USD every month in lockdowns. Effective support will require countries are given budget space.

The webinar, which saw a high-level participation by representatives from member states, the African Union and Chinese Think-Tanks and institutions was underpinned by the continued need to strengthen solidarity in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

She stressed the need for transparency in both China and African countries to ensure resources go to the neediest.

The Executive Secretary extended her gratitude to China for the support in the provision of health equipment through the African Medical Supplies platform.

This has helped increase testing capability of the continent, Vera Songwe said.

For his part, Ambassador Liu Yuxi, Head of Mission to the African Union and Representative to the UNECA elaborated on the solidarity efforts between China and Africa on the ongoing fight against the pandemic.

"China has been at the forefront, calling on the international community to increase support in the fight against the epidemic in Africa," he said, echoing President Xi Jinping's "Support for Africa" speech at the special summit of the G20 leaders and the 73rd World Health Assembly.

Ambassador Liu also touched on the recently held special China-Africa summit that he said, has sent a strong message to the international community on the strength of the cooperation between China and Africa, which he said also serves to contribute to the kind of global unity required in the fight against the epidemic.

African Union Deputy Chairperson, Ambassador Kwesi Quartey hailed the importance of the meeting as an opportunity "to address the challenges faced in combating the pandemic, assess new ways to strengthen the capacity of Member States and deepen collaboration between the African Union and China in fighting the virus."

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