French President Emmanuel Macron welcomes African leaders and heads of global financial institutions to a summit on Tuesday that will seek to provide Africa with critical funding swept away by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Africa has so far been less severely affected by the pandemic than other regions of the world – with a total of 130,000 deaths across the continent.
But the economic cost is all too apparent, with the International Monetary Fund warning at the end of 2020 that Africa faces a shortfall in the funds needed for its future development – a financial deficit – of $ 290 billion until 2023.
A moratorium on public debt servicing agreed in April last year by the G20 and the Paris Club, a group of creditor countries trying to find lasting solutions for debtor countries, was welcomed but will not suffice. not to him alone.
Many want a moratorium on servicing all external debt until the end of the pandemic.
“We are collectively abandoning Africa using solutions that date back to the 1960s,” Macron said last month, warning that failure would result in reduced economic opportunities, sudden migration flows and even the expansion of terrorism.
International finance leaders will include IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva as well as World Bank chief operating officer Axel van Trotsenburg.
The summit starts at 11:00 a.m. GMT and ends with a press conference at 4:00 p.m. GMT with Macron and the President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Felix Tshisekedi, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the African Union.
– ‘New, cheaper, longer’ –
Serge Ekue, president of the West African Development Bank (BOAD), told AFP that Africa needed much longer loan maturities that exceeded seven years and an interest rate of 3.0%. instead of 6.0%.
“In West Africa, the average age is 20 years. You walk around Abidjan (the largest city in Côte d’Ivoire) and there is incredible energy, ”he said, noting that Africa had experienced growth rates of 5-6% in recent years. years.
“The issue is therefore not so much a moratorium as obtaining low rates. Because it is better to issue new, cheaper and longer debt than to get a suspension, ”he said.
The summit comes a day after a conference on Monday attended by several heads of state, which aimed to rally support for the Sudanese government of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok in the transition following the 2019 ouster of the longtime strongman. Omar al-Bashir.
Macron notably announced that France would cancel nearly $ 5 billion in debt owed by Khartoum in order to contribute to a transition he described as “inspiration”.
The two meetings, organized in a temporary exhibition center in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, are an opportunity for Macron to show himself as a statesman on Africa whose influence goes beyond the French-speaking regions. from the continent.
With around 20 African heads of state due to attend Tuesday’s summit, it will be one of the largest high-level in-person meetings held during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Other personalities present include Rwandan President Paul Kagame and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
© 2021 AFP