Saudi Arabia will support African countries with investments and loans worth about $1 billion this year to help their economies recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, crown prince Mohammed bin Salman said on Tuesday.
“Saudi Development Fund will carry out future projects, loans and grants worth three billion riyals, or around $1 billion, in developing countries in Africa this year,” Prince Mohammed said in a televised speech to a debt relief conference in Paris.
He also said the kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund (PIF), had invested around $4 billion in the energy, mining, telecoms, food and other sectors in Africa and that it would continue to look for opportunities in other sectors in the continent.
African leaders and the heads of multilateral lenders met in Paris on Tuesday to find ways of financing African economies hurt by the pandemic and to discuss handling the continent’s billions of dollars in debt.
The summit brought together some 30 African and European heads of state, as well as the heads of global financial institutions such as the IMF and World Bank.
“The impact of the pandemic on low-income African countries was severe, as it widened the financing gap needed to achieve development goals. It is important to continue joint international efforts to overcome this crisis,” said the prince, known in the west by his initials MbS.
Earlier during the conference, IMF member countries agreed to clear Sudan’s arrears to the institution, removing a final hurdle to it obtaining wider relief on external debt of at least $50 billion.
Saudi Arabia, Sudan’s third-largest creditor with about $4.6 billion in debt, has said it will press strongly for a broad agreement on debt, to help a country emerging from decades of sanctions and isolation under ousted former President Omar al-Bashir.
(Reporting by Marwa Rashad; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Giles Elgood)