The Jesuit Justice and Ecology Network – Africa (JENA) has observed that in order to sufficiently recover from the harsh impacts of the COVID-19 shock, to reduce poverty and to build a healthier and more prosperous future for the continent, Sub-Saharan Africa needs massive financial resources.

“The continent needs resources to invest in vaccination, human capital development (health, education and social protection), in rural and urban infrastructure (power, digital and transport), and in businesses that create shared value and prosperity for all especially through decent jobs,” observed JENA director, Fr. Charles Chilufya who is also the Coordinator of the Africa Task Force of the Vatican COVID-19 Commission. This was during a two-day JENA workshop on Financing for Post-COVID19 Recovery in Sub-Saharan Africa held at the Jesuit Africama House in Nairobi this this week from 26th to 27th January. The workshop, whose aim was to develop the JENA advocacy strategy to support post-COVID-19 recovery in Sub-Saharan Africa, gathered JENA members from Kenya, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

“The shocks of the COVID-19 pandemic are reversing hard-won gains in poverty eradication over the last few decades in Africa,” Citing the African Development Bank (AfDB) Africa Economic Outlook 2021 report, Fr. Chilufya added that “an additional 38.7 million more Africans have been driven into extreme poverty resulting in 34.4% of the African population grappling with extreme poverty.

And in his opening remarks, President of the Jesuit Conference of Africa and Madagasccar (JCAM) that hosts JENA, Fr. Agbonkhianmeghe Orobator said that “while the COVID-19 pandemic poses serious challenges, it is also an opportunity to accelerate the transformation of hearts and structures needed to build a healthier and more just world.” He further observed that “with both caution and optimism, Pope Francis has stated several times that the COVID-19 pandemic is the defining crisis of this generation, from which we can either emerge better or worse.” However, recovery in Africa is walking a financial tightrope given the financial liquidity challenges the continent is facing. In normal times, African countries would raise the funds to kick-start their economic recovery by availing themselves of concessional finance, commercial borrowing, or increasing domestic resource mobilisation. In this global pandemic, though, these options are either unavailable or inadequate. Although there are global commitments by institutions such as the IMF and World Bank to support economic resilience to the unprecedented crisis, experience is showing that more funds are predominantly being channeled to the High-Income Countries (HICs). To boost global liquidity, the IMF approved a historical general allocation of Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) amounting to S$650 billion in August 2021.The allocation is meant to benefit all members, particularly the vulnerable ones struggling to cope with the impact of the COVID-19 crisis.

But JENA Global Policy and Advocacy Officer, Fernando Saldivar observed during his presentation to the workshop that “the IMF rules on SDR are biased against the vulnerable low-income countries (LICs). The rich countries have received over $400 billion worth of the allocated SDRs with African countries accessing only $33 billion of the facility,” said Mr. Saldivar.”

In collaboration with other stakeholders, JENA will advocate for global policies that yield expanded financial resources to support “building back better” in Sub-Saharan Africa and other developing regions. JENA is calling for debt relief, fair distribution of IMF’s SDR facility, suspension of debt repayment by all developing countries, and curbing of illicit financial flows to promote resilience and recovery. JENA is further calling on the international community to bring the pandemic under control through large-scale debt-free financing for mass vaccination in developing countries particularly in Africa to ensure that the recovery efforts do not drive the economies deeper into debt.

News Report from the Jesuit Justice and Ecology Network-Africa (JENA)

Further information:

Fr. Charles Chilufya JENA Director +254786584784