ROME, Nov. 20 (Reuters) – Italy will use its upcoming chairmanship of the Group of 20 major world economies to seek further debt relief for African states, a senior Italian diplomat said on Friday.
Italy takes on the annual rotating presidency of the G20 on December 1 and will seek to build on a deal reached by major international creditors in April that aimed to relieve the world’s poorest countries from debt payments.
“Any other movement, due to the diversity of the G20 members, will not be so easy, but we will work to achieve a good result,” said Pietro Benassi, diplomatic adviser to Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.
Benassi, who is involved in shaping the Italian G20 agenda, told a conference that “raising awareness of Africa” would be one of the priorities. “Debt relief must be one of the expected outcomes of the G20 and we will do our best to achieve it,” he said.
Policymakers, analysts and investors have warned that African countries face a looming debt crisis and will need more long-term aid than the latest G20 debt plan offers.
About 40% of countries in sub-Saharan Africa were in debt distress or at risk of debt distress even before this year, while Zambia last Friday became the continent’s first default during the time of the pandemic. (Reporting by Crispian Balmer; Editing by Giles Elgood)