Ramaphosa Requests More IMF Reserves for Africa’s Post-Pandemic Recovery

President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa has encouraged wealthy economies to assist Africa’s post-pandemic recovery by distributing more International Monetary Fund reserves to the continent. 

In an interview at the Qatar Economic Forum on Monday, Ramaphosa said that Africa requires more than the $33 billion set aside to help nations devastated by the coronavirus.

“We need more because our economies are going to need a lot of support and it is only fair,” he said. “The continent has been growing by leaps and bounds and should receive that type of support because all of us must get out of this economic slump that has been brought on to us by Covid-19.”

The IMF is poised to provide its members the largest resource infusion in its history, $650 billion, to help emerging and low-income countries deal with increasing debt and Covid-19. President Emmanuel Macron of France has urged other wealthy countries to follow France’s lead and pledge to reallocate some of their so-called IMF special drawing rights to assist raise Africa’s share of the global economy. 

The proposed new SDRs are expected to be voted on by the IMF’s board of governors by mid-August, according to IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva.

According to the World Bank, Sub-Saharan Africa’s GDP contracted by 2.4 percent in 2020 and is expected to increase by only 2.8 percent this year, compared to 7.7 percent in Asia and 3.9 percent in Europe. Africa’s recovery from the pandemic is expected to cost $400 billion, according to the United Nations Economic Commission. 

The economy is expected to recover from the worst effects of Covid-19. 

In addition to receiving a larger share of SDRs, African countries require debt cancellation and greater assistance for countries experiencing payment delays, according to Ramaphosa.

“Without that support, Africa will forever be left behind,” he said. “We can get up and get going with our own boot straps, but we do need that lift and developed economies have a duty.”

Additional cash would speed up Covid-19 vaccination campaigns in Africa, where countries lack the financial and organizational resources to negotiate their own supply agreements with pharmaceutical corporations. Institutions and countries opposed to patent exemptions that would allow for more decentralized vaccine manufacture have slowed the roll-out, according to Ramaphosa.

“We see their refusal to waive this intellectual property provision that they have as part of vaccine nationalism and we just don’t understand the sense of it all,” he said. “There should be a waiver for a three-year period to enable countries that have the capability to be able to produce the vaccines.”

According to the World Health Organization, only 2.8 percent of Africa’s 1.1 billion people have been vaccinated, whereas countries like the United States and the United Kingdom have properly immunized roughly 45 percent of their populations and the European Union about a quarter.

“The continued refusal leads to inequity on vaccines,” Ramaphosa said. “We are facing an emergency that has affected the entire world and it is totally unfair and wholly unjust that pharmaceutical companies as well as certain countries are refusing to allow this provision to be waived so that there can be mass production of these vaccines so that we can save lives.”

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