China must do more to help ease the debt burden of African countries facing economic calamity as a result of the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic, Ghanaian Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta said.
Although Africa accounts for a fraction of global cases of the disease, its countries already face grim impacts, with the continent’s economies expected to contract, putting about 20 million jobs at risk.
“My feeling is that China has to come on stronger,” Ofori-Atta said during a conversation on Monday with Masood Ahmed, the president of the Center for Global Development.
“Africa’s debt to China is $145 billion or so, [of which more than] $8 billion worth of payment is required this year ... So that needs to be looked at.”
African governments are calling for $100 billion in assistance, including support for a moratorium on all external debt and eventually some debt write-offs.
Ofori-Atta also chairs the Development Committee, a ministerial-level forum that advises the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on development issues.
He said African countries were 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.
“We should find a way to increase SDRs or for Europeans to offer their SDRs as a way out.”
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