US President Barack Obama said on Monday the group of 7 nations (G7) was open to cancelling debts of African countries that would have been contracted and squandered by leaders.
BY JOHN MOKWETSI IN WASHINGTON DC
Speaking at the opening of a three- day Presidential Summit of the Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders in Washington Obama said countries were hamstrung by the debts.
The summit serves as the lead-up event to next week’s inaugural US-Africa Leaders Summit, the largest gathering any US President has held with African heads of state and government.
Obama said there was a legitimate discussion to be heard around debt forgiveness.
“And in meetings with what now is the G7, I just want to let you know -but that’s a whole other topic that -we don’t want to get too far afield. I think there’s genuine openness to how can we help make sure that countries are not saddled with debts that may have been squandered by past leaders, but now hamstrung countries-are making countries unable to get out from under the yoke of those debts,” Obama said.
G7 is a grouping of finance ministers and central bank governors of seven advanced economies—Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States meeting to discuss primarily economic issues.
Obama said it was important for Western countries and advanced countries to look at past practices–if loans have been made to countries but were not put to god use and the countries were unable to extricate themselves from the debt—they should consider debt relief.
Zimbabwe is saddled with a $9,9 billion debt which has locked the flow of international capital.
However, given the frosty relationship between Washington and Harare the debt cancellation might not impact Zimbabwe. The have imposed targeted sanctions on senior officials of the Government who they deem to have participated in human rights abuses related to political repression.
US sanctions also target entities owned or controlled by the Zimbabwean government or officials of the Zimbabwean government.
Obama acknowledged that Africa’s debts were results of many variables that date back to the colonial era.
He however urged African leaders to not dwell in the past as a justification for mismanaging resources that could be benefit citizens.
Obama said Africa had enough resources and was generating wealth that was not cascading down to the general populace.
“And the truth is, is that there’s not a single country in Africa — and by the way, this is true for the United States as well — that with the resources it had could not be doing better. So there are a lot of countries that are generating a lot of wealth,” he said.
“I’m not going to name any, but you can guess. This is a well-educated crowd. There are a lot of countries that are generating a lot of income, have a lot of natural resources, but aren’t putting that money back into villages to educate children.”