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15.04.2020 Africa

Debt moratorium 'essential' to help Africa fight coronavirus: Macron

By AFP
French President Emmanuel Macron says a debt moratorium is essential to help Africa cope with the coronavirus crisis.  By Martin BUREAU (AFP)
LISTEN APR 15, 2020
French President Emmanuel Macron says a debt moratorium is essential to help Africa cope with the coronavirus crisis. By Martin BUREAU (AFP)

French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday called for a moratorium on the debt of African countries as "an essential step" to help the continent get through the coronavirus crisis.

Speaking in an interview with Radio France Internationale, Macron urged G20 finance ministers meeting Wednesday to take action on a moratorium as the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to overwhelm the fragile health systems of the poorest countries.

The moratorium would be a first step towards full cancellation of African debt, he said.

"At a time of crisis, we need to give the African economies a break rather than servicing the interest on the debt. This is an essential step and I think it is a huge step forward," he said.

Number of hospital beds and doctors per 10,000 inhabitants in African countries and comparison with other regions of the world.  By Valentine GRAVELEAU (AFP) Number of hospital beds and doctors per 10,000 inhabitants in African countries and comparison with other regions of the world. By Valentine GRAVELEAU (AFP)

"Every year, a third of what Africa exports commercially is used to service its debt. That's crazy! And we have increased this problem in recent years," he said.

"We absolutely must help Africa build its capacities to respond to the public health disaster and we must help it economically," Macron insisted.

While the coronavirus pandemic appears to have affected Africa less than other parts of the world, Macron called for caution.

"I am not an alarmist, but nor do I want to be naive. Today, this virus affects everyone."

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