Akufo-Addo seeks support to address COVID-19, Russia-Ukraine conflict impact
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has urged the global community to increase its efforts to help developing countries withstand the devastations caused by the deadly coronavirus pandemic.
He has emphasized that there was the utmost need for the global community to increase efforts to help developing countries to safeguard their economies from the dire effects of COVID-19.
The President made the appeal when he delivered a keynote address at the 15th Edition of the European Development Days (EDD) Forum in Brussels, Belgium, on Tuesday.
The Forum, organized by the European Commission on the theme, “Global Gateway: Building Sustainable partnerships for a Connected World,” brought together key actors to share ideas and experiences to inspire new partnerships and innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges.
Global gateway is the new European strategy to tackle the most pressing global challenges, from fighting climate change to improving health systems and boosting competitiveness and security of global supply chains.
The President also pointed out that developing economies have had their plights further worsened by the raging Russian-Ukrainian conflict, a development, he said, is having a toll on not only Ghana and Africa in particular but also much of the developing world.
He said statistics estimate that 70 per cent of Africa’s economies are at severe risk from the Russian war in Ukraine.
“The World Bank also tells us that, subsequent to the conflict, the number of poor people in sub-Saharan African countries would rise from 413 million to 463 million this year, an increase of 50 million persons.
“In the midst of this, 18 African economies have experienced credit downgrades, even when all economies are suffering adverse fallouts from last year’s pandemic, and we, in Africa, are also facing the risk of so-called “taper-tantrums”, as investors exit our markets, thereby exacerbating the increasing cost of borrowing,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo noted that support for non-IMF programme countries to alleviate the debt burden is limited, as the initial facility designed by the G20 countries to offer respite to economies with elevated debt challenges – the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) – had expired in December 2021 and had not been renewed.
He observed that an amount of 650 billion Special Drawing Rights (SDR), approved for the IMF in August 2021, which was meant to provide significant relief, had seen Africa receive a total of only US$33 billion.
Moreover, the promise to reallocate some US$100 billion of the SDR allocations to African economies agreed to at the Paris Summit in May 2019, has so far yielded about US$36 billion in pledges as of April 2022.
“Then, there is the matter of the “African Risk Premium”, when African entities are borrowing from the market, which increases the cost of capital, and which must be addressed, especially as Africa provides the highest return on investments obtainable anywhere and has a good record of debt repayment,” the President said.
President Akufo-Addo stated that the combined effects of the debt situation, rising interest rates and rising cost of living are resulting in severe macroeconomic and financial instability in Africa.
“What is clear is that the ensuing damage cannot be cured so easily with the limited fiscal tools at our disposal and national policy adjustments,” he pointed out, insisting that more ought to be done by the global community to help Africa surmount its current challenges.