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Some G20 Leaders Preparing Coronavirus Rescue Package for Africa

April 6, 2020 (EIRNS)—Led by France’s President Emmanuel Macron, a group of G20 leaders, are reportedly preparing a European relief package to the impact of the coronavirus crisis in Africa that would include debt relief and financial aid. According to an article in Politico, April 1,

“a comprehensive package supported by countries including France and Italy would incorporate recent demands from President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia, who have called on the world’s most industrialized countries to support the continent through the economic downturn caused by the pandemic.”

Both leaders have called for debt relief.

Macron and Abiy spoke with each other by phone in late March, after Abiy had made a public call for a $150 billion aid package from the G20 for Africa, which was to include a Jubilee debt-forgiveness for the poorest countries. In a statement released at that time, Ethiopia’s Nobel Prize winner originally proposed that interest payments on government loans “should be written off,” along with “part of the debt of low-income countries.” Abiy declared that the pandemic, “poses an existential threat to the economies of African countries,” adding, “Just as the virus knows no borders, our responses should also know no borders.”

After Macron and Abiy spoke, Mamo Mihretu, a senior adviser and chief trade negotiator to Ethiopia’s prime minister, told Politico that the global consensus for an aid package to Africa was growing fast. “There is a lot of momentum.... We are pushing for bilateral creditors to suspend all payments.”

Health Ministry projections seen by Politico outline a worst-case scenario for Ethiopia predicting 28 million people at risk of contracting the virus. Health officials are now working on the assumption that, in a worst-case scenario, Ethiopia could already be an incubator for a super-spreading event and that the health system will be overwhelmed in a few weeks. A shortage of medical oxygen supplies is one major concern.

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