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Coronavirus: 19 Poor African Countries Benefit from IMF Debt Service Relief

The coronavirus epidemic continues to disrupt life across the world. The disruption is all but gathering steam in affected even virus-free African countries. The rate of infection is lower on the continent as compared to Europe, Asia and parts of the Americas, where lockdowns are in place.

The impact on gatherings is an area that most African governments have moved to control. A number of business conferences were cancelled on account of the pandemic. A number of governments have also declared State of Emergencies.

South African president Cyril Ramaphosa extensively outlined the economic impact of the pandemic on the economy – mining, tourism – in his first address on Saturday. In Nigeria, the government is looking to revise the current budget.

Our main coronavirus hub is seized with major developments around the epidemic. This piece will focus on the impact on business with emphasis on a raft of incidents that have been undertaken.

  • Africa dominates IMF debt relief list
  • Malawi banks agree COVID-19 regulations
  • Ghana slash power tariffs, Nigeria says – not yet
  • Ethiopian announces big losses
  • Ethiopian dismisses layoff reports as fake news
  • AfDB approves $2m package for WHO’s Africa response
  • Ethiopian suspends ops to over 80 destinations
  • East Africa betting down by 99%
  • Kenya pay cuts, tax reviews
  • Nigeria, Egypt to shut down all airports
  • Rwanda fines companies guilty of price gouging
  • MTN Nigeria, Cameroon tweak mobile money charges
  • African Finance Ministers meet ECA boss via technology
  • Nigeria to slash budget by
  • Ghana, Kenya telcos review mobile money charges
  • South Africa apex bank warns against currency scam
  • Nigeria reduces petrol price
  • Rwanda, Ethiopia move to control prices of essentials
  • Nambia economy hit
  • Zimbabwe suspends international trade fair
  • African airlines to lose big – IATA

April 13: Africa dominates IMF debt relief list

The International Monetary Fund on Monday April 13 announced debt relief for a number of countries across the world citing the impact of COVID-19 on economies and livelihoods.

A statement issued by Kristalina Georgieva, IMF Managing Director said the package applied to the poorest and most vulnerable members to cover their debt obligations. The list of comprised 25 countries out of which 19 were African nations.

They included: Benin, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, D.R., The Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe, Sierra Leone, and Togo.

The non-African bloc are: Afghanistan, Haiti, Nepal, Solomon Islands, Tajikistan and Yemen.

In Georgieva’s words: “Today, I am pleased to say that our Executive Board approved immediate debt service relief to 25 of the IMF’s member countries under the IMF’s revamped Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust (CCRT) as part of the Fund’s response to help address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This provides grants to our poorest and most vulnerable members to cover their IMF debt obligations for an initial phase over the next six months and will help them channel more of their scarce financial resources towards vital emergency medical and other relief efforts.

“The CCRT can currently provide about US$500 million in grant-based debt service relief, including the recent US$185 million pledge by the U.K. and US$100 million provided by Japan as immediately available resources.

“Others, including China and the Netherlands, are also stepping forward with important contributions. I urge other donors to help us replenish the Trust’s resources and boost further our ability to provide additional debt service relief for a full two years to our poorest member countries.”

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Meanwhile reports from Ghana indicate that the IMF has approved a $1 bn facility to help the West African country combat the coronavirus pandemic. When President Akufo-Addo weeks back announced a $100m COVID-19 war chest, Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta told parliament the amount needed to be raised with support of international lenders.

The International Monetary Fund on Monday said its executive board had approved $1 billion in emergency funding for Ghana and $442 million for Senegal to enable both countries to respond to the rapidly-spreading coronavirus pandemic.

Ghana was at high risk of debt distress, the IMF said in a statement. It said the large disbursement of emergency aid would help the West African countries address urgent fiscal and balance of payments needs, and catalyze support from other development partners.

It said it stood ready to provide further policy advice and further support to both countries as needed.

April 10: Malawi commercial banks agree new regulations

Commercial banks in the country have suspended interest and principal payments for bank loans for the next three months.

The banks, through the umbrella body, Bankers Association of Malawi (BAM), have also reduced by 40 percent all fees and charges on internet banking mobile payments and other related services.

Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) Governor Dalitso Kabambe and BAM Second Vice President Zandile Shaba have announced the new measures in Lilongwe, in line with a recent directives by President Professor Mutharika to cushion Malawians from the negative impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

The southern African country has nine confirmed cases with one death. The 9th Covid-19 patient is a 44 year-old male and resident of Area 25B in Lilongwe. The man is a Canadian but originally from Burundi who came into the country on March 28 2020.

April 10: Ghana absorbs electricity bills, Nigeria says – not yet

After absorbing three months of water bills in an earlier address to the nation, the Ghana government has announced that electricity bills for the very poor will be fully absorbed by the government whiles a 50% slash will go for other consumers.

In an address on Thursday evening President Akufo-Addo also announced that lockdowns in the capital Accra and the mineral-rich Ashanti region will be extended for one more week.

“We have decided that for the next three months, government will fully absorb electricity bills for the poorest of the poor, i.e. for all lifeline consumers, who consume 0 to 50 kilowatt-hours a month for this period.

“For all other consumers, residential and commercial, Government will absorb, again, 50% of your electricity bill for the next three months. I urge all Ghanaians to exercise discipline in their use of water and electricity,” he stressed.

The president also addressed issues relating to distribution of food items to the poor. He tasked citizens to continue observing all preventive measures and protocols.

“Continue to comply with the measures, maintain good hygiene and respect the social distancing protocols, even when you are going out to receive the food. But, above all, please stay at home. I take no delight in announcing these restrictions, however, let us all remember that they have been put in place for our collective good.

“The fight against Coronavirus has served as a humbling reminder of the things that matter, the things that cannot be bought, and the things that, all too often, go unappreciated, as a result of the stress of daily life,” he added.

Over in Nigeria, the Ministry of Power also clarified in a tweet on Friday that reports of free electricity for two months were not true and that any such decision would be officially communicated.

 

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Written by How Africa

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