Coronavirus: China must help ease the debt burden of Africa – Ken Ofori-Atta

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Finance minister Ken Ofori-Atta has called on China to help ease the debt burden of African countries facing economic woes due to the Coronavirus pandemic, Reuters reports.

The African continent is not the hardest hit by covid-19, however, its countries are already facing the grim impact.

“My feeling is that China has to come on stronger,” Ofori-Atta said during a conversation on Monday with Masood Ahmed, president of the Washington-based Center for Global Development.

“African debt to China is $145 billion or so, over $8 billion of payments is required this year … So that needs to be looked at.” He added.

In the face of the outbreak, some African governments are calling for several financial assistance, including support for a moratorium on all external debt and eventually some debt write-offs.

Ken Ofori-Atta says African countries are seeking ways to increase their special drawing rights (SDR), a form of foreign exchange reserves managed by the IMF, to shield against commercial debt defaults.

“This should not happen,” Ofori-Atta added. “So we should find a way to increase SDRs or for the Europeans to offer their SDRs as a way out.”

Ofori-Atta now chairs the Development Committee – a ministerial-level forum that advises the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on development issues.

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