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IMF okays $230 mn in virus aid for Niger, Burkina

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has approved emergency aid totalling nearly $230 million (210 million euros) to help two Sahel countries fight coronavirus.

The IMF’s executive board gave the green light to disbursements of $115.3 million to Burkina Faso and $114.5 million to Niger to address the COVID-19 pandemic, the Fund said in statements late Tuesday.

The money is being allocated under the IMF’s Rapid Credit Facility, to help meet urgent balance-of-payments needs.

They will also benefit from IMF debt service relief.

The two countries, which rank among the poorest in the world, are also struggling with a jihadist insurgency in the Sahel that has claimed thousands of lives and driven hundreds of thousands of people from their homes.

The IMF has also announced emergency aid for Ghana of a billion dollars and $442 million for Senegal to help them tackle the coronavirus crisis.

On Tuesday, it said it expected sub-Saharan African economies to shrink by 1.6 percent in 2020, as part of a global contraction of 3.0 percent.

The GDP of the continent’s economic superpowers, Nigeria and South Africa, is expected to shrink by 3.4 and 5.8 percent

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