COVID-19: Buhari seeks debt relief for African countries

COVID-19: Buhari seeks debt relief for African countries

President Muhammadu Buhari has called on European countries and global financial institutions to consider reducing the devastating effect of the coronavirus pandemic on African economies by restructuring debt portfolios, opting for complete reliefs.

The President also canvassed for the release of vaccines to the African continent, which he said was still behind in protecting majority of its citizens.

President Buhari made the call on Tuesday at the Financing Africa Summit held at Grande Palais Ephemere in Paris, France, with the theme: “External Financing and debt Treatment”

In a statement issued by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, in Abuja late Tuesday night, the Nigerian leader said the fall in commodity prices as Covid-19 took a toll on the global economy further slowed growth in some countries and strained health facilities.

The statement quoted the President as saying, “It is in this vein that we solicit the support of the French government with its influence in the European Union to lend its voice to the efforts being made to mobilize additional resources for developing economies most especially Africa in order to strengthen the quantum of investments to our economies.

“This financial support should also be extended to the private sector.”

President Buhari advocated that the European Union should encourage fair and equitable distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines in less developed countries, and promote the establishment of manufacturing facilities.

According to him, many African countries were already experiencing debt distress and the Debt Service Suspension by France and G-20 does not go far enough, adding that there was need for more sustainable and affordable financing solutions, including debt relief and further debt restructuring.

On the Paris Agreement for Climate Change, President Buhari noted that African countries would need financial support for green energy investment and COP-26.

He said Nigeria will refocus on gas while adopting a Strategic Revenue Growth Initiative.

On the theme of “Africa Private Sector — Reforms – Infrastructure’’, President Buhari said Public Private Partnership (PPP) will be fully explored to ensure more precision in development, cutting down waste and reducing chances of corruption.

“The government intends to leverage on Public Private Partnership to bolster its job creation, and anti-corruption drive. In terms of job creation, Nigeria has an abundant labour force since 30.5 percent of its population is between the ages of 25 and 54.” he said.

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