By Loucoumane Coulibaly
ABIDJAN, July 15 (Reuters) – Eleven African heads of state called on Thursday for $100 billion in hardship funding to help dig their economies out of the hole caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Most African nations have been spared the levels of death and infection caused by the coronavirus in other parts of the world, but lockdowns and reduced travel and trade have thrown sub-Saharan Africa into recession.
The leaders met in Ivory Coast’s commercial capital Abidjan, where they produced a declaration asking for $100 billion for the period of 2022-2025 from the International Development Association (IDA), an arm of the World Bank Group that offers loans and grants to some of the world’s poorest countries.
The funding would be a step up from a previous disbursement of $82 billion agreed in 2019.
“I appeal to our partners to take ownership of this Abidjan declaration and significantly increase their contribution … to fight inequalities and help finance the most vulnerable economies,” Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara said in a speech.
The presidents of Guinea, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Benin, Mauritania, Mozambique, Niger, Togo, Liberia and Madagascar were also part of the meeting.
So far, only 18 million people in Africa, a continent of 1.3 billion, have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, deepening fears of a protracted economic slowdown as much of the world re-opens.
Africa recorded a 43% jump in COVID-19 deaths last week as infections and hospital admissions rise and countries face shortages of oxygen and intensive-care beds, the World Health Organization said on Thursday.
(Reporting By Loucoumane Coulibaly Writing by Edward McAllister; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)
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