Why Africa must restructure debt – Okonjo-Iweala

The Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has reiterated her call for the restructuring of debts owed by African countries to enable them provide economic stimulus packages for their economies and accelerate recovery from COVID-19 devastations.

She explained that Africa’s economies required short-term policies that would enable them to get more fiscal stimulus.

What they are saying

“If we want to recover, it is important to discuss about restructuring debt and giving African economies fiscal space to breathe so that they can invest not only on the health side but also on the economic side. This is how we are going to recover.

The good news is that all our presidents like President Kagame have been pushing for the issuance of new Special Drawing Rights (SDR) at the International Monetary Fund, which agreed to provide $650 billion. Africa would get $34 billion but more may be allocated. We can use this to help implement more fiscal stimulus so that our economies can have the ability to recover.

Moreover, some liquidity should go to the private sector. You know that in rich countries, private sector has gotten access to credit and liquidities that enabled their Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to recover,” Okonjo-Iweala said.

The Chairman of the United Bank for Africa (UBA) and Founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF), Mr Tony Elumelu, urged governments and business leaders in Africa to prioritise youth empowerment and job creation.

He stated that by prioritising youth empowerment and job creation, they would be able to improve the standard of living on the continent and address the challenge of unemployment.

They both spoke at the UBA Africa Day Conversation 2021, which held as a virtual event.

The forum also featured President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, the Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, and the Managing Director of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), Mr Makhtar Diop.

Elumelu, who is also the Chairman of Heirs Holdings, said the third UBA Africa Conversations was dedicated to discussing pressing issues facing the continent, its people and young population.

Elumelu said:

“The priority for Africa is the empowerment of its youths and ensuring the creation of jobs and economic opportunities even during very difficult times.

We have seen how our young ones despite COVID-19 leverage their talents, expertise and technology to create wealth and support the communities they live in.

We must, therefore, ensure that these young ones are made and not erased. We must create an enabling environment for our young entrepreneurs to succeed and empower them to create the jobs that would lift the continent to prosperity.”

 

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