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COVID-19 Updates: African Governments Jointly ask IMF for $500bn


By Rogers Wanambwa

KIU, Main Campus - African Governments have together solicited the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to release $500bn liquidity to support the continent battle the economic squeeze that the COVID-19 pandemic has subjected to the 54 states. 

Besides, in a virtual meeting convened by the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and IMF, African finance ministers said the $500bn supplementary appropriations will also cater for improved market access. 

Additionally, an extension of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI), given the prolonged nature of the pandemic, was another request that African finance ministers, including Matia Kasaija, tabled before IMF. 

On the other hand, Uganda’s debt ratio to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is currently at 46%. 

“We all know that the COVID-19 pandemic will persist for the next two to three years. Why are we extending the DSSI for 6 months and not 24 months?” said Ken Ofori-Atta, Ghana’s Finance Minister, characterizing the COVID-19 effects on the continent as “cascading” and a “frightening thing for a finance minister to witness when they don’t have the means to respond.” 

Another demand made by the finance ministers is equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines. 

On that note, Uganda has already authorized the purchase of 18 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from the Serum Institute of India. The delivery is anticipated in March.

Egypt’s finance minister, Mohamed Maait, said, “There is a strong case for vulnerable countries to access the markets at an affordable rate to afford essentials such as PPEs and food for their populations,” while talking about access to markets. 

“The world stands to lose an estimated $9 trillion if only the rich get COVID-19 vaccines. 40% of this loss will be in advanced economies,” said Georgieva.

That said, according to ECA’s Executive Director Songwe, the main purpose of the meeting was to “seek IMF support in forging a way out of the crisis by transforming existing liquidity instruments and easing market access to alleviate the debt burden and provide much-needed liquidity for the continent.”