The World Bank and IMF Spring Meetings typically bring hundreds of people to Washington, D.C. Last week, COVID-19 oblige, they were held virtually. During the 15 April G20 meeting, Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors agreed to “a time-bound suspension of debt service payments for the poorest countries that request forbearance”. This means that the 76 countries eligible to concessional loans from the World Bank’s International Development Association (40 of them African) will have a debt service payments freeze for the rest of the year. They will still have to pay, but later. This also means that indebted middle-income countries severely hit by Covid-19 and GDP drops do not get debt relief. Several of these countries are in Latin America and some such as Algeria, Egypt, Morocco and South Africa, are in Africa. So the influential COVID-19 special envoys recently appointed by the African Union are asking for more financial assistance. The G20 Finance will reconvene in July.
Reading David Mwambari’s “The pandemic can be a catalyst for decolonization in Africa” reminded me, yet again, to not look at global issues only through a Western lens. So I was happy to find Oxfam Duncan Green’s recent compilations of African and Indian viewpoints on the COVID-19 crisis.
My graph this week is from the IMF April 2020 Global Economic Outlook showing that the world is facing the worst economic downturn since the great depression with global growth projected to fall to -3 percent in 2020. I am left wondering what that would look like if the outlook also accounted for losses in human and social capital.
My quotes this week are from two women I listened to on the same day and who give the same advice on how to change mindsets. Jane Goodall [1 02’ 58”]: “If you point fingers, if you are argumentative, if you are blaming, you don’t see change. Change has to come from within. So, you need to reach for the heart”. Christiana Figueres [44’14”]: “First, understand what is important to them and then educate and share your knowledge through the channels of what is important to them.”
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