The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), has said efforts to get debt relief for African countries and Special Drawing Rights of about $650bn, especially with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, have reached an advanced stage.
Buhari, who was represented by the Vice-President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), at the opening session of the three-day 1st Conference of Speakers and Heads of African Parliaments in Abuja on Monday, also said over 30 million jobs had been lost since the pandemic, with about 26 to 40 million people going into extreme poverty.
“Various African countries put in place extreme measures to curtail the effects of the virus and limit the socio-economic impact such as lockdowns and stimulus packages. In Nigeria, our stimulus programme to the tune of about N1.6tn,” he said.
The President pointed out that the post-pandemic stimulus package for Africa must go beyond individual efforts by the countries, adding that there is the need for increased collaboration and integration of efforts to drive sustainable economic growth and recovery across the continent.
Buhari said, “In many of our countries despite relatively weak economic circumstances, the legislature had to sit down with the Executive to make some of the most breathtaking budgetary provisions in our histories.According to him, African parliaments have a particular role to play aside from the fact that they have been charged to make laws.
“In Nigeria, our stimulus package was in the order of N2.3tn – in excess of $7bn. In many countries, the implications of the huge deficits from these supplementary budgets must have kept legislatures and the executive awake at night, but many realized and performed these hugely risky but historical assignments.
“But I think it is clear that a post-COVID economic recovery strategy for Africa must go beyond efforts in our individual countries. There is a need for increased collaboration and integration of efforts to drive sustainable economic growth and recovery across the African Continent.
“Our parliaments have a central role to play. It is to them that the power to enact laws, oversee government budgeting and international borrowing belong. And there are many opportunities for their proactive collaborative intervention.”
In his presentation, the President, AfDB, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, noted that the pandemic affected the growth and development of Africa as well as the rest of the world. He also noted that Africa’s confirmed COVID-19 cases stood at 11.5 million people, with 253,000 deaths.
Adesina further noted that Africa’s economic growth was in decline by -1.5 per cent, with over 26 million people falling further into poverty, while 30 million jobs were lost.