France offers ‘new deal’ for Africa’s health, economic emergency

By Shweta Desai

PARIS (AA) – France hosted the African Economies Funding Summit on Tuesday, promising a new economic deal for Africa with debt restructuring and allocation of special drawing rights.

“The summit is of urgency because there is a health emergency due to the pandemic and a social and economic urgency as there is a sharp slowdown in growth throughout Africa,” President Emmanuel Macron said in a video statement in Paris alongside Democratic Republic of Congo President and the African Union, Felix Tshisekedi and IMF managing director Kristalina Georgieva. “We propose a new situation, the summit is a paradigm shift.”

He said it is imperative for rich nations “to update our financial rules by taking into account this burden of security that weighs on many African states.”

The summit agreed to three main decisions: debt moratorium by G20 countries from June to December 2021; a common framework for debt restructuring for Chad, Ethiopia and Zambia — to be developed jointly by the US, EU and China — and allocation of special drawing rights of $33 billion to African members and $22 billion for sub-Saharan countries.

Macron said France is willing to re-allocate its Strategic Debt Restructuring (SDR) schemes and will work to pursue rich G7 and G20 countries by October to reach a target from $33 billion to $100 billion for Africa. It is estimated that African nations will require financing of 285% billion between 2020 and 2025.

On health, Macron said through the COVAX initiative, the aim is to vaccinate at least 40% of the African population, made possible with collective efforts; by re-allocating extra doses and producing the vaccine in Africa.

He said France made strong proposals to adjust the rules of intellectual property and to allow real technology transfer that will empower the continent to produce more vaccines.

Tshisekedi said the summit was important to relaunch Africa that is hit-hard by the coronavirus pandemic and has drained economies. He added that African nations would like to see the extension of the debt moratorium from December 2021 until the end of 2022.

Georgieva said the IMF supports the summit as Africa is expected to grow only “3.2% as against the rest of the world at 6%.”

“We have to boost public and private investment in Africa by mobilizing financing from international organizations and by bringing SDRs from strong countries to Africa,” she said.

The summit brought together 30 African heads of state and government, as well as the heads of international organizations, including the World Bank, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).