African Finance Ministers ask for $500b SDR for COVID-19 response in meeting with IMF MD

Dr. Vera Songwe

African Finance Ministers are requesting for $500 billion Special Drawing Rights (SDR) to enable their countries respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) has said in a press statement copied to

As the pandemic continues to ravage the world and African countries are struggling to find appropriate responses, the ECA met with African Ministers of Finance and the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Kristalina Georgieva to discuss an “immediate economic response” to the pandemic.

During the virtual meeting led by the ECA Executive Secretary, Vera Songwe on February 5, 2021, the ministers unanimously called for additional liquidity of $500 billion in Special Drawing Rights (SDR), better market access, more concessional resources and an extension in the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI), given the prolonged nature of the pandemic.

The ministers also asked for equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines as an imperative for building forward better.

Commenting, Ghana’s Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta said: “We all know that the COVID-19 pandemic will persist for the next 2-3 years. Why are we extending the DSSI for 6 months and not 24 months?, he asked, adding; “a frightening thing for a finance minister to witness when they don’t have the means to respond,” he said about the cascading effects of COVID-19.

Egypt’s Minister of Finance, Mohamed Maait, remarking on access to the markets, said, “there’s a strong case for vulnerable countries to access the markets at affordable rate to afford essentials such as PPEs and food for their populations.”

“The world stands to lose an estimated $9 trillion if only the rich get COVID-19 vaccines. 40 per cent of this loss will be in advanced economies,” said Ms Georgieva.

According to Ms Songwe the objective of the meeting was to “seek IMF support in forging a way out of the crisis by transforming existing liquidity instruments and easing market access to alleviate the debt burden and provide much needed liquidity for the continent.”

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

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