PARIS (Reuters) – French President Emmanuel Macron is hosting African leaders and leaders of multilateral lenders in Paris on Tuesday to find ways to finance African economies hurt by COVID-19 pandemic and discuss the processing of debt on the continent for billions of dollars.
The summit is part of Macron’s efforts to rework France’s commitment to Africa, where it was once a colonial power, with the continent facing a nearly $ 300 billion deficit by the end of 2023 as it tries to recover. from the decline.
“Africa’s peculiarity is that today it does not have the financial means to protect and revive its economy, like all other continents,” French Finance Minister Bruno Le Mer told RFI radio on tuesday.
The summit will bring together about 30 African and European heads of state, as well as heads of global financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund.
The African Development Bank estimates that up to 39 million people could fall below the poverty line this year, with many African countries at risk of debt due to the pandemic.
Macron said he believed Africa needed a “new deal” to give the continent a breath of fresh air.
World financial leaders agreed in April to increase reserves (SDR) in the International Monetary Fund by $ 650 billion and will extend the debt service freeze to help developing countries cope with the pandemic, although only $ 34 billion will be allocated to Africa.
“France wants this to go much further by redistributing SDRs that are (scheduled) for developed countries,” French presidency officials told reporters ahead of the summit.
The completion of the World Bank’s International Development Association, which provides emergency aid, private sector investment and the broader question of how to treat the debt crisis, will be discussed.
“The president is talking about massive debt cancellations and continues to believe that it is very important to give liquidity to African countries and allow them to invest,” the official said.
On Monday, Macron said he wanted to cancel all of the $ 5 billion that Sudan owes.
(Report by John Ireland and Richard Loff)