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Africa is the biggest winner from the International Monetary Fund’s first batch of debt relief as 19 countries from the continent will get access to grants in order to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. This fell short of requests by other African countries to bilateral and multilateral lenders to give them a break from debt repayment due to the adverse effects of the virus on revenues and economic growth.
Through a press release, the multilateral lender said the Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust will provide $500 million in grants to the first 25 countries including 6 from outside Africa. The African countries who are to benefit from the fund include Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Benin, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, The Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, São Tomé and Príncipe, Sierra Leone and Togo.
“This provides grants to our poorest and most vulnerable members to cover their IMF debt obligations for an initial phase over the next six months and will help them channel more of their scarce financial resources towards vital emergency medical and other relief efforts.” Says Kristalina Georgieva who is the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund.
As the impact of the pandemic continues to be felt in the continent, different countries have adopted strategies aimed at minimizing the effects on livelihoods and business such as tax reliefs and other measures. The World Bank predicts that Africa is headed for its first recession in 25 years while the Corona is forecasted to cost the region between $37 billion and $79 billion in losses for 2020.