Paris. French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday called for a moratorium on the debt of African countries as "an essential step" to help the continent get through the coronavirus crisis.
Speaking in an interview with Radio France Internationale, Macron urged G20 finance ministers meeting Wednesday to take action on a moratorium as the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to overwhelm the fragile health systems of the poorest countries.
The moratorium would be a first step towards full cancellation of African debt, he said.
"At a time of crisis, we need to give the African economies a break rather than servicing the interest on the debt. This is an essential step and I think it is a huge step forward," he said.
"Every year, a third of what Africa exports commercially is used to service its debt. That's crazy! And we have increased this problem in recent years," he said.
"We absolutely must help Africa build its capacities to respond to the public health disaster and we must help it economically," Macron insisted.
While the coronavirus pandemic appears to have affected Africa less than other parts of the world, Macron called for caution.
"I am not an alarmist, but nor do I want to be naive. Today, this virus affects everyone."