Covid-Battered Africa Gets Support during the Paris Summit
The Recent summit hosted by Paris is a ray of hope for Africa and the African economy. The key pledge at the end of the summit was to lift patents to allow Africa to produce its own vaccines. Additionally, the summit also aimed at offering financial support to Africa while relieving the debt owed by Africa given its severely impacted economy.
What Africa is facing is a social crisis and not purely an economic crisis. Africa is on the brink of a lost decade, a period in which economies and governance have not been at the best. It has come to a point where the growth rate for the continent is somewhere negative 2.8.
The Paris summit brought together twenty African leaders, top executives from the European Union, and officials from International Monetary Fund (IMF). The intention was to help Africa on the economic and health front.
The IMF was central to the discussions in Paris as they could help provide speedy access to much-needed funds. They could give access to rapid funding that would be easy for African countries to use to boost their finances. This centers on Special Drawing Rights that are a sort of assets that the IMF has available to its members. It can increase this asset pool by $650 billion in response to the pandemic. Only $33 billion of this will directly be available to African countries to change for currency. And they can use it for much-needed supplies for their medical systems.
However, what’s under negotiation here is that developed countries like France giving their Special Drawing Rights to those developing countries. The goal is to give them short-term financing needs at no or low cost and to restore investor confidence in these countries. This will allow them that breathing room to recover at a time when Africa is facing its worst recession in 25 years.
As a result of the discussions during the summit, France agreed to cancel has as much as $5 billion of debt owed by Sudan.
Amongst other issues was also the issue of the Covid-19 vaccines and the waiver of patent with respect to it. President Ramaphosa brought attention to the waiver on patent rights on vaccines that the developed countries were seeking. South Africa and India have been requesting developed nations speaking to their pharmaceutical companies to support the waiver.
Additionally, during the summit, France also agreed to assist South Africa to build capacity in the manufacturing of vaccines. This is very important from the point of view of future pandemics and diseases.
President Emanuel Macron is also expected to visit Africa by the end of this month. It is expected that on the agenda would be the relations between the two countries on the political, security, trade front.