The European Commission on Friday announced the mobilisation of €84.26 million in support of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic in four African countries: Liberia, Benin, Central African Republic, and Sierra Leone.
Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, declared that: “Our comprehensive response to the coronavirus is to offer urgent support to our partner countries in their efforts to respond to the health and socio-economic impact of the crisis. Beyond that, it involves planning the recovery in the long term so that together we can build a greener, fairer and more sustainable world for future generations. I am convinced that Europe’s engagement towards our African partners will make it possible to achieve these two key objectives.”
The new EU funds will benefit the fight against coronavirus in the following countries: Benin (€46.56 million), Central African Republic (€14 million), Liberia (€8.7 million), and Sierra Leone (€15 million). These countries, which are all long-standing partners of the European Union, will be able to provide their populations with increased health and social protection support in 2021 at the same time as support to their business sector during this difficult period.
Emergency budget support worth €8.7 million has also been mobilised in support of Liberia’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This follows a previous emergency transfer of €6.25 million disbursed in May 2020 as well as actions involving training, awareness raising and the provision of personal protective equipment worth almost €2 million. In total, the EU’s response to Liberia’s socio-economic recovery efforts is worth upwards of €14.95 million in the form of budget support. This emergency funding, which will be transferred to the State Treasury account, will give Liberia greater fiscal leeway to address the coronavirus pandemic in line with the priorities identified in the health, education, trade and industry, agriculture and infrastructure sectors.
The European Union is providing €46.56 million in budget support to Benin in response to the economic and health consequences of COVID-19. These funds will help increase the government’s fiscal leeway in terms of financial measures addressing the pandemic, particularly for the most vulnerable and for business. They will also enable the government to continue its efforts to develop the country by ensuring its macroeconomic stability. This payment comes on top of an initial €10 million in the form of emergency budget support to Benin last June. In total, EU support in response to COVID-19 in Benin is worth €56.56 million.
Central African Republic
The Bêkou Fund Management Committee, the Central African Republic Fiduciary Fund, has approved two decisions strengthening the European Union’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the country: additional funding of €10 million for its Santé III programme to ensure continuity of basic health care for the population throughout 2021, and a €4 million civil protection programme. The Central African fire brigade has been enlisted to implement an anti-contamination protocol, distribute water, disinfect certain public spaces and support the implementation of community surveillance in the capital’s 3rd district.
To assist the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the EU has announced budget support worth €15 million. This comes on top of an emergency disbursement of €10 million announced in May 2020, bringing the total amount of EU support to €25 million. These funds will reduce pressure on the national budget and enable the government to prioritise spending in response to the pandemic, while ensuring continued support for development priorities. For example, the funds will enable increased spending on health care and social protection, the fight against food insecurity and support for the most vulnerable businesses.
Team Europe’s total global response to COVID-19 stands at almost €38.5 billion, combining resources from the EU, its Member States, the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
Around €8 billion of this assistance is earmarked for African countries. These countries will also receive a significant share, worth €3.1 billion, of Team Europe investment guarantees. The guarantee scheme aims to promote access to finance for the private sector and to encourage investment.