South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Saturday appealed to the Group of Twenty (G20) to help Africa confront the financial and economic aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ramaphosa made the plea in his statement at the first session of the virtual G20 Leaders’ Summit on overcoming the pandemic and restoring growth and jobs.
“Many of the hardest hit economies are in Africa,” he noted. “Economic activity on the continent is expected to contract by 3.2 per cent in 2020, with the region falling into a recession for the first time in 25 years.”
“We call on the G20 member states to use all of their persuasive powers, individually and collectively, to convince all creditor countries, the multilateral development banks, the credit rating agencies and the private sector to continue to work with us to address the problem of burgeoning and unsustainable developing country debt,” he added.
The G20 is the premier forum for international economic cooperation. It is a forum for the governments and central bank governors from 19 countries and the European Union (EU).
South Africa is the only African country in the group.
Ramaphosa in his statement also called upon the G20 members to help Africa overcome funding shortfalls for the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator.
By Saturday, the number of COVID-19 infections in Africa surpassed the 2.04 million mark, with a death toll nearing the 50,000 mark.
On his part, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud on his part said that the group must work towards affordable and equitable access to vaccines and other tools to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
Saudi Arabia currently holds the G20 presidency.