Nigeria seeks EU support for relief on commercial debts
Nigeria has called on the Group of 20 developed countries to support the inclusion of commercial debt in the debt relief initiatives for African countries.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who made the call said that given the African countries’ previous structural vulnerabilities and limitations, debt relief by the developed countries must involve commercial debts.
Osinbajo, who spoke at the virtual 2020 EURAFRICA Forum, said the continent welcomes the debt relief and support by the G20 but noted that the initiative must be extended to include commercial debt to be meaningful.
“We continue to experience huge financing gaps, huge debt servicing obligations and foreign exchange shortages. It is clear then that we need all the help we can get.
“The Debt Servicing Support Initiative of the G20 is welcome and will no doubt bring some relief to relevant African countries. However, it remains inadequate because it does not address the problem of commercial debt service obligations.”
“The share of commercial debt is almost two-thirds of debt service in Africa so any debt relief arrangement not involving this segment is unlikely to succeed.
“Getting relief on commercial debt servicing will require the cooperation of bondholders and ratings agencies which is why the African Union Special Envoys on COVID-19 are engaging with them actively. Nigeria calls on the EU to lend its weight to this initiative which is very important for Africa,” Osinbajo stated.
The Vice President also advocated “widespread and equitable access to a COVID-19 vaccine” called on the European Union to support the initiatives aimed at promoting vaccine access to poorer countries.
“Europe should work closely with Africa to ensure that when a vaccine is finally deployed it should not be on the basis of the highest bidder but rather be made available at an affordable and in an accessible manner.
“This is a matter that should not be taken for granted. We saw during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, in richer parts of the world, that orders for test kits and reagents by African countries were deemed too small and tended to be ignored.
“Although Nigeria does not have the resources or means to pre-pay for a COVID-19 vaccine, we are fortunate to be a GAVI supported country and we urge the EU to lend support to GAVI’s effort to ensure equitable global access to COVID-19 vaccines under the COVAX initiative. This way, poorer countries and their citizens will get the vaccines that they need at the same time as the rest of the world,” Osinbajo said.