Catholic Bishops in Africa Urge IMF, World Bank to Help Address Africa’s COVID-19 Recovery

Bishop Sithembele Sipuka, First Vice President of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM). Credit: Bishop Sithembele Sipuka

Members of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) are calling on delegates attending the ongoing International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank Spring meetings “to put in place viable plans for” African nations to recover from COVID-19 challenges. 

In a statement signed by the First Vice President of SECAM, Bishop Sithembele Sipuka Catholic Bishops in Africa call upon delegates participating in the 2022 Spring Meetings of the IMF and World Bank to use resources at their disposal to help shape economies that promote the dignity of humanity across the world.

"We call on G20 Finance Ministers and other world leaders to gathering at the IMF/World Bank Spring Meetings to put in place viable plans for Africa to emerge from the crisis with resilience and resume progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals, African Agenda 2063 and Paris Agreement," SECAM members say in their Wednesday, April 20 statement shared with ACI Africa.

They call upon world leaders taking part in the about the April 18-24 sessions "to provide leadership and coordination efforts to bring together public and private creditors to create mechanisms to reduce the unbearable debt burdens" that some African nations are facing. 

These mechanisms, the Catholic Church leaders in Africa say, "should be used for effective and immediate debt payment suspension mechanisms seeking support."  


They add that while the commitment of African leaders is essential in debt repayment, countries in the world's second largest continent need "a large dose" of external support from the international community. 

One of the ways that the international community can support African economies is through the Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) that were allocated in August 2021, SECAM members say in reference to the foreign exchange reserve assets created by the IMF to supplement existing money reserves for member nations.  

Catholic Bishops in Africa say that countries, which were allocated large amounts of SDR could re-channel their allocations to Africa. 

The IMF allocated a total of XDR456.5 billion (equivalent to about US$650 billion) globally, with African nations having been allocated a sum of US$33 billion. 

While welcoming the allocations in Africa, SECAM members express disappointment that the larger amount of SDRs went to wealthy nations. 

More in Africa

They urge wealthy nations that received more than 400 billion in SDR allocation to "re-channel a significant amount of their allocation to African countries to support local efforts for vaccine purchase and climate change adaptation."

SECAM members say that "while the G20 commitment to re-channel 100 is a good start, we believe they can do more." 

"We would also like to state that care must be taken so that the vehicles of SDR re-channeling protect debt sustainability and avoid conditioning transfers on policies that worsen poverty, human development or access to essential services," they say. 

SECAM members call for the beginning of a new SDR allocation at a level sufficient to at least triple the resources that Africa received in 2021. 

"World leaders should also revise the method for distributing SDRs so that their allocation is aligned with recipients’ needs," SECAM members say in their April 20 statement shared with ACI Africa. 


The Catholic Bishops propose three elements that could be used for a new international financial architecture in order to prevent future debt crises, one being the adoption of "responsible lending and borrowing rules and policies, including debt contract disclosure and authorization frameworks.”

Other elements include a fair risk-sharing between debtors and creditors for natural disaster and other natural shocks, and "sufficient sources of concessional, long-term financing for development, with embedded policies to protect debt transparency and sustainability."

Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.