Sierra Leone: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) stepped up to provide financial assistance to several African countries to support their efforts to respond and contain the socio-economic impact of the pandemic.
Through its Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust (CCRT), the IMF offered debt relief to poor countries, including those in Africa, which cumulatively amounted to US$111.48 million for 6 months and US$422.06 million for 24 months.
It also dramatically increased its assistance, providing large and timely financing under concessional terms through its Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI) and Rapid Credit Facility (RCF).
Altogether, the IMF is currently making about US$250 billion, representing a quarter of its lending capacity, available to member countries (IMF, 2020).
This is according to a report which is the product of a collaboration between the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), the Making Finance Work for Africa Partnership (MFW4A), hosted by the African Development Bank and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) that offers a ground-breaking, first ever assessment of the potential impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the region.
A look at the global intervention in support of Africa, the report stated that the IMF’s lending to Africa exceeded US$25.2 billion in 2020, considerably more than the historical annual average of less than US$5 billion. As of November 2020, several African countries have received assistance to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic and reduce pressure on their balance of payments.
Also, a sister organisation to the IMF, which is the World Bank Group has also taken broad and swift actions to help developing countries improve public health support and help the private sector continue to operate and sustain jobs as the impact of the pandemic gradually deepens in these countries.
The institution committed to deploy up to US$160 billion in financial support through broad economic programs and facilities over the next 25 months to help countries protect the poor and vulnerable, support businesses, and strengthen efforts towards economic recovery.
Through its dedicated COVID-19 Fast-Track Facility (FTF), the World Bank has already rolled out the first tranche of financing to support projects in an amount of US$1.9 billion for 25 developing countries.
As of November 2020, several African countries had received financial assistance from the World Bank under the FTF. This assistance is being deployed to finance the procurement of medical supplies and equipment to build diagnostic capacity and training.