Mali has become the first African nation to secure a moratorium in debt payments from the Paris Club of creditor nations, a French finance ministry source said on Tuesday.
Last month, G20 and Paris Club creditor nations agreed to waive most debt payments for the world’s poorest countries in 2020 as a result of the coronavirus crisis.
“We already have four countries that have signed a moratorium with the Paris Club,” a ministry source said.
Nepal, Grenada and the Dominican Republic were the other three, the source added.
In all, 77 countries with combined debt of $36 billion are eligible for the moratorium this year. Of these, 41 out of 49 sub-Saharan African countries have $19 billion due in payments.
The lockdowns imposed by many countries have upturned the global economy, putting severe strains on government revenues just as many nations need to step up health spending to combat the virus.
Another 20 countries are in the final stages of obtaining a moratorium, said the source.
Pakistan, Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon and Mauritania are among those close to finalising their applications, another source said.
The Paris Club expects requests from remaining countries to arrive in the coming days. Loan payments not made this year are to spread out over three years beginning in 2022.
The Paris Club is an informal group of major industrialised nations that provide bilateral loans.
Together with emerging nations in the G20 such as China, India, Saudi Arabia and Turkey which also provide loans, they agreed to temporarily suspend debt payments despite calls for debt forgiveness from Pope Francis and France’s President Emmanuel Macron.