African finance ministers have called for $500 billion in Special Drawing Right and an extension in the Debt Service Suspension Initiative to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The call was made during a virtual meeting convened by the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) on February 6, according to a statement by the ECA on Tuesday.

According to an IMF Factsheet, the SDR is an international reserve asset, created by the IMF in 1969 to supplement its member countries’ official reserves.

So far, SDR 204.2 billion, equivalent to about $281 billion, has been allocated to members.

The value of the SDR is based on a basket of five currencies—the U.S. dollar, the euro, the Chinese renminbi, the Japanese yen, and the British pound sterling.

Also, according to the World Bank, the DSSI is an initiative by the bank and the IMF urging the Group of 20 (G20) to help countries concentrate their resources on fighting the pandemic and safeguarding the lives and livelihoods of people.

The members of the G20 are: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union.

The initiative took effect on May 1, 2020 and has delivered about $5 billion in relief to more than 40 eligible countries.

In all, 73 countries are eligible for a temporary suspension of debt-service payments owed to their official bilateral creditors.


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