OUAGADOUGOU, JUNE 2, 2020 (CISA) – The Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) has appealed for urgent debt cancellation for African countries given the devastating effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Thinking beyond COVID-19, we, as leaders and representatives of the Church in Africa and Madagascar, would like to urgently appeal to officials of bilateral and multilateral aid agencies to take a closer look at the case of Africa, which is currently facing the problem of lack of resources in the fight against the pandemic and the lack of safety kits for those who, working in the informal sector, have had to suspend their activities due to lockdowns,” said Philippe Cardinal Ouédraogo, the President of SECAM in a statement dated May 31.
The prelate who is also the Archbishop of Ouagadougou noted that most African countries spend most of their incomes repaying debts to various international lenders which inhibits their ability to cater for essential public services.
He called for the cancellation of debts of African countries, to enable them to revive their economies pleading for substantial aid to be given to the countries to support the establishment of quality health care systems.
“Judging from its devastating effects, it can be said without a doubt that the consequences of the pandemic are tragic. On the economic level, the recession is evident due to the shutdown of activities, especially in key production sectors, in the tourism sector, air transport and the hotel industry,” Cardinal Ouédraogo said.
“The social explosion is to be feared in many countries, and in particular, in Africa that is already burdened with debt and where unemployment continues to worsen, which further increases, even more, the phenomenon of the impoverishment of the populations,” he added.
According to an assessment done by Caritas Internationalis, although cases and fatalities in Africa are low, the effects of the pandemic are worse worsened by the Covid-19.
In April, Finance Ministers under following directives from the G-20 leaders announced plans meant to help low-income countries have some resources to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Among the key recommendations was the suspension and deferment of debt service repayments by some of the world’s poorest countries.