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China must do more to help ease the debt burden of African countries - Ghanaian Finance Minister

Tuesday, 07 April 2020 18:56
China must do more to help ease the debt burden of African countries - Ghanaian Finance Minister

(Ecofin Agency) - In Africa, the war against the covid-19 pandemic is having a significant impact on economies. According to Ken Ofori-Atta (pictured)- Ghana's finance minister- China, Africa's largest trading partner, can do much more to help African countries relieve their debt.

Figures revealed by the minister showed that Africa's debt to China amounts to about $145 billion, of which $8 billion is due to be paid this year. The situation already seems hardly tenable for the continent, while estimates predict that 20 million jobs in Africa will be put at risk by the pandemic.

To mobilize the funds needed to respond to the disease, African governments a few days ago called on their lenders to grant them an exemption from paying interest on their respective countries' debts and obligations (estimated for 2020 at $44 billion). Moratoriums and debt cancellation programs have also been called for by several heads of state.

In recent years, China, which has been particularly criticized for its methods of financing Africa, has granted debt cancellations to several countries on the continent such as Zambia, the Central African Republic and Côte d'Ivoire.

“My feeling is that China has to come on stronger,” Ken Ofori-Atta said on April 6 during a meeting with Masood Ahmed, president of the Center for Global Development.

As a reminder, African countries estimate that they need $100 billion to deal with the coronavirus crisis. According to some experts, the new pandemic could increase some countries’ debt.

Moutiou Adjibi Nourou

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