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Dr. Vera Songwe : “Africa need resources from the international community”

Dr. Vera Songwe | United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director | United Nations Economic Commission | Africa

Africa, like European countries during the last financial crisis, needs more support from the international community, according to UN Under-Secretary and Executive Director, Dr Vera Songwe. She was speaking at the 29th Afreximbank AGM in Cairo, Egypt, during a panel discussion.

Dr. Vera Songwe, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, said it is critical for the African continent to expect external support. “If we recall the last severe crisis, the financial crisis, the international community joined together and issued something called Special Drawing Rights, which is literally printing new additional resources to support the then-European countries that were fighting to emerge from that catastrophe. We need the international community to issue new special drawing rights now, because Africa and the developing nations are struggling,” she claimed.

Dr. Vera Songwe also discussed the effects of the Ukrainian conflict on African countries. “Egypt currently imports roughly $2.8 billion in wheat grain and other goods from Russia and Ukraine, the price of which has increased by 47 percent, necessitating more resources.” As a result, the first thing we require from the international community are resources. She stated, “We needed it yesterday, and we need it now.”

According to her, it is also necessary to strengthen domestic resource mobilization. “One of the silver linings of the crisis has been an increase in logistics trade through the Suez Canal. Congratulations to Egypt and all the work that they’ve been doing. Imports and revenues from the Suez Canal are up about 60%. Egypt got about $66 billion, just last year, from the Suez Canal traffic and transit trade. All transportation costs have gone up by almost 30%. So there is revenue there that we can put back in”, she highlighted. 

Dr. Vera Songwe advocated for increased intra-African trade. “We need to do more trading with each other.” $2.8 billion in Russian wheat imports, plus another $2 billion in combined imports from Ukraine and other countries, all of which could be created on the continent, creating more jobs.