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Editor’s Note: The impact of COVID in Africa has been debated a lot. As an information platform, Africa News Matters went all in to try to present an accurate picture of the impact of COVID in Africa. The impact of the pandemic on citizens on the continent varies from country to country. But COVID’s impact…
Climate vulnerable nations in Africa are showing growing interest in debt-for-climate swaps to address ballooning debt and spur climate investments. Increasingly, they have the ear of financial institutions.Today, 58% of the world’s poorest countries are in debt distress or at high risk of it. In sub-Saharan Africa, Covid-19 has squeezed budgets and pushed average debt levels above 60% of GDP.
Helene Gichenje is the Commonwealth’s regional climate finance adviser for Africa. Russia’s war in Ukraine and rising global inflation “are likely to significantly worsen the debt crisis,” she said at Africa Climate Week in Gabon on Wednesday.
High levels of debt repayments and a shrinking fiscal space have prevented much-needed investments in climate resilience, Gichenje said. And climate vulnerability is driving up the cost of accessing capital.
“There is danger that the vulnerable developing countries will enter a vicious cycle,” she said.
The IMF, the Green Climate Fund and the African Development Bank increasingly support debt-for-climate swaps as a solution.
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Debt swaps mean that instead of making payments to creditors on outstanding loans, debtor countries can use that money in local currency to invest in climate projects under terms agreed with creditors.
This form of debt relief has been around for 30 years but hasn’t seen much use. Despite some positive examples, including a debt-for-nature swap in the Seychelles, the IMF estimates that only up to $4bn worth of debt has been forgiven under swap programmes.
Cabo Verde, Eswatini and Kenya are among nations looking into how to make debt-for-climate swaps work for them.
“Debt swaps could be a good instrument to give us space in our budget for new investments in renewable energy and the blue and green economy,” Soeli Santos, treasury director at Cabo Verde’s ministry of finance, told the event.
In exchange for partial debt forgiveness, Cabo Verde would, for example, meet some of the commitments made in its 2030 climate plan, Santos said.
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The principle generated significant interest during a meeting of African climate experts in Ethiopia last month as part of discussion on climate finance.
The Egyptian Cop27 presidency is considering launching a debt swap framework at the climate summit in November.
And a number of financial institutions have started to explore how to scale up the relief swaps can provide.
Last month, an IMF working paper, co-authored by the fund’s deputy chief in the debt department, concluded that, in some circumstances, debt-for-climate swaps made economic sense.
“There is a space for debt-for-climate swaps in the broader climate finance toolkit,” said IMF senior economist Vimal Thakoor. “In many countries, grants are not forthcoming necessarily and debt relief is not necessarily on the table either.”
However, in countries with high levels of debt distress, swaps should not replace broader debt restructuring programmes, the paper argues.
Scaling up debt swaps requires bringing on board a large pool of private and official country creditors. That is no small task but something creditors might be willing to do to support climate goals, it added.
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Although the paper hasn’t been endorsed by the IMF’s board and management, Paul Steele, chief economist at the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), told Climate Home it could be “potentially game-changing” should it gain political backing.
“The IMF has the credibility and the most leverage to bring together creditors in a way that would allow them to take forward this kind of international initiative,” he said. “An international initiative on debt swaps for climate and nature outcomes at Cop27 could break the logjam on climate finance.”
The IMF is not alone in exploring options to move this forward.
Andrey Chicherin, head of innovation and technology transfer at the Green Climate Fund, told the meeting that the fund could act as an intermediary in debt swaps by designing adaptation and carbon-cutting programmes and ensure their delivery against the fund’s verification systems and safeguards.
The African Development Bank is finalising a feasibility study on scaling up debt-for-climate and nature swaps in Africa. This is to inform advice to nations on debt relief options.
On a three-day visit, the French president said he was seeking “truth and acknowledgment” over the war and colonialism. ALGIERS — Past the graves and elaborate Christian mausoleums of Saint Eugene Cemetery, President Emmanuel Macron of France made his way, before laying a wreath at a monument to those “who died for France.” For a…
The killing of protestors by security services during large-scale demonstrations in Sudan’s capital Khartoum in June underscores the ongoing political tensions in the country. Against this backdrop, the UN is committed to sustain and build peace in Sudan, say UN Resident Coordinator Khardiata Lo Ndiaye, and Elizabeth Spehar, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support.
Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur returns the ball against Germany’s Tatjana Maria during their women’s singles semi final tennis match on the eleventh day of the 2022 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 7, 2022. (AFP)
LONDON – Ons Jabeur became the first African woman in the Open era to reach a Grand Slam singles final on Thursday when she defeated close friend Tatjana Maria in the Wimbledon semi-finals.
The 27-year-old world number two from Tunisia triumphed 6–2, 3–6, 6–1 and will face Elena Rybakina in Saturday’s championship match.
Russian-born Rybakina, representing Kazakhstan, knocked out 2019 champion Simona Halep 6–3, 6–3.
“I’m a proud Tunisian woman standing here,” said Jabeur, who was the first Arab player to make a Slam semi-final.FEATURED STORIES
Before Thursday, South Africans Irene Bowder Peacock, at the 1927 French Open, and Renee Schuurman, in the 1959 Australian Open, were the only African women to have reached a Slam singles final.
“It’s a dream come true from years of work and sacrifice. I’m happy that’s paid off and I’ll continue for one more match,” said Jabeur.
“Physically, Tatjana is a beast, she doesn’t give up — I thought she would give up — her touch, her serve and everything on the court is impressive. I hope she continues this way. Let’s not play again, I’m good for now.
“I know in Tunisia they are going crazy right now. I want to see more Arab and African players on the tour. I love the game and I want to share the experience with them.”
Jabeur coasted through the first set against mother-of-two Maria with breaks in the third and seventh games.
The Tunisian fired 15 winners to her opponent’s six in the first set while not facing a single break point.
However, Maria, described by Jabeur as her “barbecue buddy”, did manage to finally break through for 3–1 in the second set off the back of a series of delicate slices.
Jabeur’s 17 unforced errors in the second set compared to the six of the more accurate German, who levelled the contest.
But there was to be no upset win as the 103rd-ranked Maria’s challenge was quashed.
Jabeur secured a double break for a 5–0 advantage before securing her place in history on a second match point.
Rybakina overpowered former champion Halep, breaking the Romanian four times in a dominant display on Centre Court.
“It was really good — today I was mentally prepared and did everything I could and it was an amazing match,” said the 23-year-old.
“I think it’s going to be a great match (against Jabeur). She’s a great player, very tricky player. It’s not going to be easy to play against her drop shots and volleys.”
Former world number one Halep had not lost a set coming into Thursday’s match but was immediately under pressure against the big-serving 17th seed.
Rybakina, who stands six feet (1.84 metres) tall, raced into a 3–0 lead with an early break of serve and had break points in all of Halep’s service games in the first set.
Halep, seeded one place above her opponent, did well to stay in touch but failed to carve out any break points of her own in the first set.
Rybakina, the first woman representing Kazakhstan to reach a Grand Slam semi-final, showed no mercy at the start of the second set, breaking again to establish an iron grip.
Halep broke to love in the fourth game to establish a foothold but a double fault in the following game handed the initiative back to her opponent.
Rybakina, the ace leader in the women’s tournament, sealed an impressive win on her first match point with a backhand winner down the line to break Halep again, wrapping up the match in 76 minutes.
The 23-year-old switched her nationality to Kazakhstan in 2018 to take advantage of greater financial help.
Russian and Belarusian players were banned from this year’s Wimbledon following the invasion of Ukraine.
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