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7 Apr, 2020 08:56

China must step up on African debt relief amid coronavirus pandemic – Ghana

China must step up on African debt relief amid coronavirus pandemic – Ghana

China must do more to help ease the debt burden of African countries facing economic calamity from the coronavirus pandemic, Ghana’s finance minister said. Africa accounts for just a fraction of global cases of the disease, but the continent’s economies are expected to contract, putting about 20 million jobs at risk.

“My feeling is that China has to come on stronger,” Ken Ofori-Atta said during a conversation on Monday with Masood Ahmed, president of the Washington-based Center for Global Development. “African debt to China is $145 billion or so, over $8 billion of payments is required this year… So that needs to be looked at.”

African governments are calling for $100 billion in assistance, including support for a moratorium on all external debt and eventually some debt write-offs, Reuters reports.

China on Tuesday said it recognizes that developing countries face a greater challenge, but it did not mention any specific debt-relief measures that it would implement. Beijing will communicate with the relevant countries through diplomatic channels. “For countries who face debt difficulties, China will never force them, but will resolve it through consultation via bilateral channels,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Tuesday.