Africa needs debt relief, debt restructuring, and debt sustainability, the African Development Bank president said.

Akinwumi Adesina was speaking at Monday’s UN Meeting on International Debt Architecture and Liquidity.

He said: “It is time to put in place an African financial stability mechanism to protect itself against external shocks.”

Adesina said the mechanism will provide a much-needed fiscal safety net for African economies.

“Africa is not looking for a free pass. Africa is looking to working with the global community to have the fiscal space to breathe, to grow back better, stronger, and faster,” he added.

For his part, Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame said modernizing the international debt architecture should not be seen as merely a COVID-19 emergency measure. “It is a long-overdue discussion that goes to the heart of the inequalities that continue to bedevil our world.”

“Richer countries have benefited from an unprecedented $16 trillion of emergency support measures, while many developing countries cannot invest in recovery and resilience,” he added.

Kagame said the debt relief negotiations should be conducted with the welfare of citizens in mind, and with a long-term view of development objectives, including the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

“Finding innovative solutions to this dilemma should rightly be a central preoccupation of the international community in the immediate future,” he added.

With the world struggling to overcome the human and economic devastation from COVID-19, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Jamaica Andrew Holness, and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres convened a meeting of world leaders on Monday to urge the international community to take additional and urgent action to ensure a robust recovery.

The high-level virtual meeting was aimed to underscore the urgency of the need for more audacious and concrete action to provide liquidity and address debt vulnerability.

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