French President Emmanuel Macron hosts African leaders and the heads of multilateral lenders in Paris on Tuesday to find ways of financing African economies hurt by the coronavirus pandemic and tackle the handling of the continent’s debt worth billions of dollars.
The summit is part of Macron’s endeavors to recast his country’s engagement in Africa, where it was once a colonial power, at a time the continent faces a deficit of nearly 300 billion dollar by the end of 2023 while trying to recover from the downturn.
French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told RFI radio on Tuesday that “the peculiarity of Africa is that it does not have the financial means today to protect and revive its economy like all the other continents have done.”
The summit is set to bring together around 30 European and African heads of state, as well as the heads of global financial institutions like the International Monetary Fund.
This year, as many as 39 million people could fall below the poverty line with several African countries at risk of debt distress due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as estimated by the African Development Bank.
The French president has said he believes Africa needs a “New Deal” to give the continent a breath of fresh air.
In April, world finance chiefs agreed to boost reserves (SDR) at the IMF by $650 billion and extend a debt-servicing freeze to help developing countries deal with COVID-19, although only $34 billion will be allocated to Africa.
“France wants this to go much further by reallocating SDRs that are (scheduled) for developed countries,” an official from the French presidency briefed reporters ahead of the summit.