By Dan-Maryam Zayamu
African Heads of States have been advised to use the 24,164.60 billion Special Drawing Rights (SDR) given to them by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to support economic recovery, COVID-19 vaccines equitable access and health security in their various countries.
The 24,164.60 billion SDR is equivalent to US$34.4 billion.
The Africa Health Budget Network (AHBN), gave the advice in a statement it issued today, calling on the African leaders to use the funds transparently, prudently and judiciously for the good of all residents of the region.
AHBN also called on Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and the media in the African region to engage government agencies, including Ministries of Finance and Central Banks, to ensure prudent utilization of the US$34.4 billion allocated to countries within the region.
“The US$34.4 billion allocated to African countries can boost the economies of the region if properly and judiciously deployed to critical sectors. These funds can immensely improve the infrastructural deficit in most African countries.
“These huge funds can also help the African region support COVID-19 vaccines equitable access and distribution, strengthen health security and catalyze greater investment in sustainable financing and development.
“AHBN acknowledges that while every country has the right to decide how these funds will be utilized, governments should ensure that those decisions are prudent, well-informed and evidence-based for the wellbeing of Africans.
“All areas that can expose the funds to misappropriation and mismanagement should be blocked to ensure that Africans get value for these huge resources,” says the AHBN Coordinator, Dr Aminu Magashi Garba.
The statement recalled that in August this year, the IMF announced that its new global allocation of 456.5 billion SDR (equivalent to US$650 billion) will be made to its 190 member countries.
This huge amount being the largest SDR in the IMF’s history is targeted at helping countries recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The funds will provide additional liquidity to the global economic system – supplementing countries’ foreign exchange reserves and reducing their reliance on more domestic or external debt.
The breakdown of the 456.5 billion SDR, the statement said, showed that the 55 African countries got 24,164.60 billion SDR, while non-African countries got 432,320.7 billion SDR.
A cursory look at the allocation of the 24,164.60 billion SDR for African countries showed that South Africa got the highest SDR at 2,924.40 billion, while São Tomé and Príncipe got the least allocation of 14.2million SDR. Other countries like Liberia received 247.7million, with Nigeria and Sierra Leone getting 2,352.50 billion and 198.8million respectively.
AHBN therefore joined the global call that encourages countries with stronger economies to voluntarily channel their SDRs to the poorest and most vulnerable nations, or channel their SDRs to support lending by multilateral development banks.
By Dan-Maryam Zayamu