African leaders and leaders of multilateral lenders met in Paris on Tuesday to find ways to finance African economies affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and to discuss the processing of billions of dollars on the continent.
The summit is part of French President Emmanuel Macron’s efforts to rework France’s commitment to Africa, where it was once a colonial power, at a time when the continent is facing a nearly $ 300 billion deficit by the end of 2023 as it tries to to recover from the decline.
“We have gathered here to reverse what has developed as a very dangerous gap between advanced economies and developing countries, especially (c) Africa,” said Kristalina Georgieva, head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The summit brings together about 30 African and European heads of state, as well as heads of global financial institutions such as the IMF and the World Bank.
Georgieva said that the economic production of the African continent will increase by only 3.2% in 2021 compared to 6% in the rest of the world.
The African Development Bank estimates that up to 39 million people could fall into poverty this year, with many African countries at risk of debt due to the pandemic.
Macron said he believed Africa needed a “new course” to give the continent a breath of fresh air.
World financial leaders agreed in April to increase the IMF’s reserves (SDRs) by $ 650 billion and extend the debt service freeze to help developing countries cope with the pandemic, although only $ 34 billion will be granted to Africa.
Negotiations in Paris will focus on how to redistribute SDRs for developed countries. Macron said rich countries should reorient their SDRs so that the distribution to Africa increases to $ 100 billion.
“This is a great opportunity … to see how we can raise funds to save Africa, which has been hit hard by this pandemic,” said Democratic Republic of the Congo President Felix Chisekedi, who is also president of the African Union.
Consideration should also be given to completing the World Bank’s International Development Association, which provides emergency aid, private sector investment and the broader issue of treating the debt crisis.
“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,” said a French presidential official.
Macron spoke of the need to help Africa accelerate its COVID vaccination campaign. According to him, the international community should strive to inoculate 40% of the African population against COVID-19 by the end of 2021.