Simon Ateba is Chief White House Correspondent for Today News Africa. Simon covers the U.S. government, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions in Washington D.C. He can be reached on [email protected]
The United States is committed to supporting African countries recover from the coronavirus economic crisis, Secretary of the U.S. Treasury Janet L. Yellen said on Tuesday.
“This includes helping to mobilize the financing needed to pay for vaccines, meet debt obligations, and support economic development,” Yellen said at the summit on financing African economies. “We have made progress already, but we must do more together to ensure a durable economic recovery in Africa.”
According to her, the United States’ highest priority at the moment is ending the pandemic by partnering with African countries to “provide vaccines, financing, and therapeutics as widely as possible.”
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“The United States has committed $4 billion to the COVAX Facility to finance vaccine access globally, and we urge other countries to increase their support,” she added.
Yellen acknowledged that “the high and growing debt burden in some African economies further limits their ability to respond to the crisis” and suggested that the G20 Common Framework can be a helpful tool for countries with severe debt challenges, adding that its success requires “full and transparent implementation by all creditors, as well as IMF and World Bank coordination.”
“In addition, we must support African investments for a sustainable and green recovery. We should use this opportunity to facilitate structural transformations, helping to make African economies more inclusive and resilient to future shocks, including those related to climate change. We are also working to bolster the ability of the IMF, the World Bank, and the African Development Bank to increase support to the poorest economies,” Yellen said, noting that a new allocation of IMF Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) can be “an important part of that broader package of international support.”
Yellen added: “An allocation should come alongside enhanced transparency and accountability around the use of SDRs, as well as clear advice from the IMF as countries decide how to best use their SDRs to combat the crisis and restore economic stability.
“We strongly support exploring how major economies can channel SDRs to amplify support for low-income countries, including by lending SDRs to the IMF’s Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust (PRGT) and other vehicles that could provide low-cost health financing and promote a green recovery.”
Yellen also called on African countries to focus on domestic resource mobilization, private finance, and investment climate reform to help build back more sustainably.
“Achieving our shared goals for a resilient and prosperous Africa requires strong global cooperation and a shared sense of commitment,” she added.