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African Development Bank approves EUR 88 million loan to Cameroon to respond to COVID-19 economic devastation

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The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank on Monday approved a EUR 88 million loan to Cameroon as direct budget support to finance the country’s COVID-19 crisis response.

The loan, to the country’s COVID-19 Crisis Response Budget Support Programme (PABRC), falls under the framework of the Bank’s COVID-19 Rapid Response Facility (CRF) of up to $10 billion, the institution’s main channel to cushion African countries from the economic and health impacts of the crisis.

In Cameroon, the pandemic has revealed the structural weaknesses of the country’s health system and economy, particularly the limited human and financial resources allocated to the health sector.

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The PABRC’s goal is to check the spread of the coronavirus, to save lives and to mitigate its adverse socio-economic effects on the Central African country, particularly on households and businesses. The programme also involves longer-term actions to build the resilience of the economy as a basis for recovery.

It will support the implementation of a health response plan to improve testing and ensure early detection and rapid management of the virus, thus reducing case fatality and improving the recovery rate. It will also support the most vulnerable in society by paying family allowances to staff of companies unable to pay social security contributions as well as distributing health kits.  

“Women play a key role in the fight against the spread of COVID-19 as wives, mothers, caregivers and community resource persons. The social protection and economic resilience actions under this support will particularly target women and the households and businesses headed by them,” Bank Acting Director General and Country Manager for Cameroon, Solomane Kone said.

Measures to sustain economic activity and safeguard employment will include value-added tax (VAT) credits to restore the cash position of enterprises as well as procuring inputs to support strategic agricultural value chains including poultry, fish, seeds and cereals. It will also support key small and medium-sized enterprises in the agribusiness, health and education sectors.

This operation complements the Bank’s $13 million special emergency project for Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa(CEMAC) member countries and the Democratic Republic of Congo, to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, which was approved earlier this month.

COVID-19 has broken out at a time when the Cameroonian economy, the largest and most diversified in the Central Africa, is recovering from the 2014 shock caused by a sharp fall in the world prices of the country’s main export products ­– oil, cocoa and timber. Without support, the spread of COVID-19 in Cameroon could compromise the reform drive and jeopardise the progress made in recent years.

The first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Cameroon was identified on 6 March 2020. By 22 June, the Central African country had more than 12,041 confirmed cases, including 308  deaths and 7,740  recoveries. The Centre (Yaoundé) and Littoral (Douala) Regions have the highest number of cases, representing about 55.8% and 32.2% of the total, respectively.

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