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May 11, 2020

WASHINGTON, DC: The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the Institute of International Finance (IIF) released the following statement after an extraordinary virtual meeting of delegates representing 15 African finance and development ministries, one African Union Special Envoy, and the private creditor community to discuss potential private sector involvement in the G20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI). The African Union Special Envoy, Tidjane Thiam, chairing the meeting emphasized the need for speed in the resolution of the process. 

“Global cooperation is an essential component of the COVID-19 response, which is why the ECA and the IIF have worked to establish a forum for open dialogue between private creditors and sovereign debtors. It has been clear since the outbreak of this pandemic that everyone has a role to play—including the private sector—in supporting emerging African countries with capital and liquidity through the crisis. Both sides agreed to explore how to provide liquidity to countries, while honoring obligations to creditors and preserving future market access, and recognize that discussions like the one today will help advance effective solutions.”

Representing the private sector, the IIF has helped coordinate the views of over 100 of the world’s foremost asset managers, banks, and other financial institutions providing private finance to nations and companies through Eurobonds, syndicated loans, trade finance and other credit structures across the continent of Africa. These investors bring significant expertise and experience in Africa and other emerging markets, and represent total assets under management in excess of $45 trillion.

This meeting also follows up from the ministers of finance and development meetings the ECA has been convening as part of its support to member states on the crisis.

The main purpose of today’s discussion was to understand the range of potential options, in addition to highlighting the importance of keeping private market access available for countries post-crisis.

Among other topics, the group discussed issues of standardization of processes where possible, while acknowledging that a one-size-fits-all solution may not apply in light of country-specific characteristics that would need to be considered. Further, the meeting agreed that communication to and from all stakeholders needs to be well managed so as not to cause an unnecessary disruption in the crucial flow of private capital to invest in hospitals, roads, education, healthcare systems and other infrastructure critical for a strong recovery—and for sustainable economic and societal development in the years to come.

Finally, the group agreed on the need for continued dialogue and will plan to follow up as appropriate.

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About the ECA

Established by the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations (UN) in 1958 as one of the UN's five regional commissions, ECA's mandate is to promote the economic and social development of its member States, foster intra-regional integration, and promote international cooperation for Africa's development.

Made up of 54 member States, and playing a dual role as a regional arm of the UN and as a key component of the African institutional landscape, ECA is well positioned to make unique contributions to address the Continent’s development challenges.

About the IIF

The Institute of International Finance is the global association of the financial industry, with close to 450 members from more than 70 countries. Its mission is to support the financial industry in the prudent management of risks; to develop sound industry practices; and to advocate for regulatory, financial and economic policies that are in the broad interests of its members and foster global financial stability and sustainable economic growth. IIF members include commercial and investment banks, asset managers, insurance companies, sovereign wealth funds, hedge funds, central banks and development banks.