CAPE TOWN – President Cyril Ramaphosa wants interest payment on Africa’s external and public debt to be suspended. He made this call during his virtual address to world leaders at the UN General Assembly on Tuesday.
An African Union (AU) study on the economic impact of Covid-19 released in April 2020 showed that the continent could lose up to $500 billion and that countries may be forced to borrow heavily to survive after the pandemic.
Calls for debt cancellation for poor countries have been ongoing for many years. In 2005 the World Bank and the IMF cancelled $55 billion of the debt owed by Africa’s most impoverished states.
“The pandemic has cost nearly a million lives. It has deepened human suffering and uprooted communities, destroyed livelihoods and plunged economies into turmoil. The pandemic will inevitably set back our developmental aspirations,”
“As the African Union, we are encouraged by the collaboration of the G20, the IMF, the World Bank and the UN towards finding solutions to debt sustainability in developing countries. We also call for the suspension of interest payments on Africa’s external and public debt,” said Ramaphosa.
Speaking via video-link, Ramaphosa noted that, with resources redirected to fighting the virus, efforts to provide housing, health care, water and sanitation, and education have been hampered.
“Until we eradicate global poverty, we will always fall short of realizing the vision of the founders of the United Nations (Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development),” he said.
Ramaphosa also emphasised gender equality, including the expansion of opportunities for women, and ensuring their rights in the workplace, political life, and in society as a whole.
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