ECA for debt relief, regional integration


The United Nations’ Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) has said Covid-19 pandemic has stifled capacity of some African countries in meeting debt-servicing obligations, leading to unsustainable debt levels.

Countries and global organisations have been calling on bilateral creditors to consider suspending poorest countries’ debt payments to ease possible pandemic shocks.

This comes as Malawi’s debt stock as at end June 2020 stood at K4.1 trillion (representing 65 percent of GDP) from K3.7 trillion in June 2019.


Estimates show that the country could save in excess of K16 billion each year if its debt burden was stripped off.

Speaking in a recent Virtual Meeting of the 26th Intergovernmental Committee of Senior Official and Experts, ECA Director for Sub-Regional Office for Southern Africa (SRO-SA), Sizo Mhlanga, said most countries are greatly affected by the pandemic.

“Covid-19 crisis has highlighted the need for accelerating the building of productive capacities and the implementation of national and regional industrialisation strategies as well as improving and strengthening the business environment to unleash opportunities for the Southern African private sector in the sub region and the rest of the continent” Mhlanga said


While echoing the observations, the United Nations Resident Coordinator in the Kingdom of Lesotho, Salvator Niyonzima, acknowledged the sterling efforts by the governments and development partners in addressing the fallout from the pandemic.

The representative of African Union-SARO, Myranda Lutempo, Senior Policy Officer alluded to the need for all regional activities to be implemented on a continental level to ensure sustainability.

She said the African Union Commission was promoting economic integration and private sector development through several key flagship projects under Agenda 2063.

AU acknowledged the “critical role that the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) sector played in inclusive economic growth and sustainable job creation”.

The meeting also appealed to member states, the United Nations and development partners to pull together resources to strengthen the national and regional macroeconomic environment, create a platform for the implementation of the AfCFTA in Southern Africa, enhance the role of the private sector and build back better post-Covid-19.

The Inter-Governmental Committee elected Lesotho as Chair, Malawi as Vice-Chair and South Africa as Reporter to lead the ICSOE Bureau.

Speaking when assuming Inter-Governmental Committee of Senior Officials and Experts (ICSOE) of Southern Africa, Finance Minister in the Kingdom of Lesotho, Thabo Sofonea, noted that the new Bureau was assuming responsibilities in a Covid-19 environment which had impacted negatively on socio economic issues in Southern Africa.

In 2006, developing countries, including Malawi, had a debt relief under the Highly Indebted Poor Countries and the Multilateral Debt Relief initiatives.

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