Kristalina Georgieva, managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), says aid requests by sub-Saharan African countries would be prioritised during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Georgieva told journalists on Wednesday that the region ought to be the centre of attention given how badly countries in the region need economic lifelines.
“Sub-Saharan Africa had a lot of countries stepping up over the last years and it is so tragic to see that momentum being stopped,” she said during a press conference at the ongoing virtual April 2020 Spring meetings.
“Sub-Saharan Africa ought to be the centre of our attention and it is. We now have more than 30 countries applying for emergency financing. We are prioritising and rapidly responding to this request recognising how critical this lifeline is for them.”
She also expressed hopes of countries in the region getting more debt relief in addition to the 25 countries who got immediate debt relief from the IMF on Monday.
“Spend as much as you can but keep the receipts. We don’t want accountability and transparency to take a backseat in this crisis,” the IMF boss said, referring to African leaders.
“Prepare for recovery. We need to make sure that the continental free trade agreement doesn’t get derailed because of coronavirus and that means engaging with the leadership in Africa and making sure of that we are putting not only financial resources but also opening up trade channels and making sure that we support the industries in Africa that depend on trade and the revival of trade.”
In the 2020 World Economic Outlook released on Tuesday, the Bretton Wood institution had said Nigeria’s economy would record its worst contraction in 33 years.
The Nigerian government has requested for a $3.4 billion facility from the IMF under the rapid financing instrument (RFI) to help deal with the economic impact of the COVID-19 outbreak.