By Mourice Seretta
President Uhuru Kenyatta has proposed several new approaches to financing of Africa’s Covid-19 recovery efforts saying the private sector should be supported to play a more central role.
Alongside private sector participation, the President advocated for enhanced recovery packages from Africa’s development partners, debt swaps and restructuring, and accelerated access to alternative sources of financing such as the Green Climate Fund.
“Innovative financing solutions that crowd in the private sector. These would include the issuance of private sector-backed financial instruments such as green bonds, supporting the issuance of local currency instruments, structuring guarantees to lower financing costs; and, developing and deepening public-private partnership opportunities,” the President proposed.
“We need to move beyond traditional measures and implement truly transformational financing options that are commensurate with the enormity of the crisis,” he added.
President Kenyatta spoke Tuesday at State House, Nairobi in his virtual address to the summit on financing of African economies hosted by President Emmanuel Macron of France, and attended by several leaders among them President Felix Tshisekedi of DR Congo who is also the current Chairperson of the African Union.
At the same time, the Head of State emphasized the need to upscale African countries access to Covid-19 vaccines.
“With regard to access to vaccines, we talk about economic recovery but there can’t be any recovery without access to vaccine and Africa is desperately lacking in vaccines,” President Kenyatta said.
He said Kenya will continue opening up its vibrant economy for private sector participation saying the country had strengthened its Public Private Partnership (PPP) regime.
“We commit to augment our limited fiscal space by revitalizing Public Private Partnership (PPP). In Kenya, we have put measures in place to leverage on PPPs to provide greater operational efficiency and reduce pressure on fiscal space,” he said.
The President cited the Nairobi-Nakuru-Mau Summit Road, a PPP project financed by French investors as an example of the huge financing potential held by the private sector and invited more investors to Kenya and the continent.
“Opportunities abound for private sector investments and Joint Ventures, in virtually all sectors. To close the infrastructure and development deficits. We welcome the private sector to invest in Africa,” he said.
At the same time, President Kenyatta welcomed ongoing efforts by development partners to cushion the continent from adverse effects of Covid-19 saying Africa needs more resources to fight the pandemic, tackle debt vulnerabilities, and address poverty among other pressing needs.
“Kenya appreciates the extra-ordinary efforts from development partners to finance economic recovery and reduce debt vulnerability.
“Kenya welcomes commitments from bilateral and multilateral agencies to support emerging and low-income countries in response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the President said, adding that despite its devastation, Covid-19 presents an opportunity for African economies to bounce back stronger.
The President also spoke about the key role played by Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in supporting livelihoods in Africa, and welcomed the establishment of the Alliance for Entrepreneurship in Africa (AEA) as special instrument for mobilizing finances for the sector.
“In Africa most livelihoods are supported by the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), which have not been spared by the impact of the pandemic.
“Kenya, therefore, welcomes the launch of the Alliance for Entrepreneurship in Africa to support mobilization of financial and technical resources for MSMEs,” the President said.
In his address, President Macron called for a change of tack in financing African development by enhancing the Special Drawing rights (SDRs) to boost the continent’s capacity to combat the Covid-19 pandemic as well as recovery efforts.
The French President also underscored the need for debt cancellation to accord African countries the requisite liquidity to build better post-Covid.
“We should turn this emergency into an opportunity to boost Africa’s economic growth,” President Macron said.
On his part, President Tshisekedi said African leaders expect a swift and bold action from the international community especially the G7 and G20 to accelerate Africa’s economic growth.