By Ismaila Chafe
President Muhammadu Buhari has called on European countries and global financial institutions to consider reducing the devastating effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on African economies by restructuring debt portfolios and providing complete debt relief.
The president made the call at the Financing Africa Summit held at the Grande Palais Ephemere in Paris, France, on Tuesday, with the theme: “External Financing and debt Treatment”.
He observed that many African countries were already experiencing debt distress and the debt service suspension by France and the G-20 was not far reaching enough.
Buhari added that there was need for more sustainable and affordable financing solutions, including debt relief and further debt restructuring.
He also called for the release of vaccines to the Africa, which, he asserted, had been left behind in protecting majority of its citizens.
The Nigerian leader said the fall in commodity prices as COVID-19 took a toll on the global economy had further slowed growth in some countries and strained health facilities.
“It is in this vein that we solicit the support of the French government, with its influence in the European Union, to lend its voice to the efforts being made to mobilize additional resources for developing economies most especially in Africa, in order to strengthen the quantum of investments to our economies.
”This financial support should also be extended to the private sector,” he said.
The president said the European Union should encourage fair and equitable distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines to less developed countries and promote the establishment of manufacturing facilities.
As for the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, Buhari noted that African countries would need financial support for green energy investment and COP-26.
He said Nigeria was refocusing on gas, while adopting a Strategic Revenue Growth Initiative.
On the theme of “Africa Private Sector — Reforms – Infrastructure’’, the president said Public-Private-Partnerships (PPP) would be fully explored to ensure more precision in development, cutting down waste and reducing chances of corruption.
“The government intends to leverage on Public-Private-Partnerships to bolster its job creation and anti-corruption drive.
”In terms of job creation, Nigeria has an abundant labour force since 30.5 percent of its population is between the ages of 25 and 54.’’