France summit will address how to spur economic recovery in Africa, says minister

FILE PHOTO: Launching of the 2020 income tax campaign in France
FILE PHOTO: French Economy and Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire attends a news conference for the launching of the 2020 income tax campaign at the Bercy Finance Ministry in Paris, France, April 8, 2021. REUTERS/Sarah Meyssonnier

April 30, 2021

ABIDJAN (Reuters) – A May 18 summit in France will tackle how developing countries, particularly in Africa, can avoid falling further behind as the global economy rebounds after the coronavirus pandemic, French economy minister Bruno Le Maire said on Friday.

The International Monetary Fund has allocated $23 billion in direct financing to countries in sub-Saharan Africa, whose combined economy shrank 1.9% in 2020 – its worst contraction on record. Its recovery is forecast to trail the rest of the world’s in 2020-25.

The IMF cash “will go directly to African economies so you also can revive your economies and participate in the great global recovery,” Le Maire told reporters during a two-day visit to Ivory Coast.

He said the summit would look at ways to support the region’s small and medium-sized firms including through loan guarantees. These businesses have struggled to get financing amid the downturn, which pushed employment down 8.5% and left 17 countries on the continent in or close to debt distress last year, according to the IMF.

(Reporting by Ange Aboa; Writing by Alessandra Prentice; Editing by Toby Chopra)