China must do more to help ease the debt burden of African countries facing economic calamity as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, Ghana’s finance minister Ken Ofori-Atta said.

Though Africa accounts for just a fraction of global cases of the disease, its countries already face the grim impacts, with the continent’s economies expected to contract, putting about 20-million jobs at risk.

“My feeling is that China has to come on stronger,” Ofori-Atta said during a conversation on Monday with Masood Ahmed, president of the Washington-based Center for Global Development that was posted on the think-tank’s website.

“African debt to China is $145-billion or so, over $8-billion of payments is required this year … So that needs to be looked at.”

African governments are calling for $100-billion in assistance, including support for a moratorium on all external debt and eventually some debt write-offs.

In the video below, the United Nations expresses concern about the impact of the coronavirus in Africa: 

Ofori-Atta now chairs the Development Committee – a ministerial-level forum that advises the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on development issues.

He said African countries were seeking ways to increase their special drawing rights (SDR), a form of foreign exchange reserves managed by the IMF, to shield against commercial debt defaults.

“This should not happen,” Ofori-Atta added. “So we should find a way to increase SDRs or for the Europeans to offer their SDRs as a way out.”

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Africa: 

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