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Date: Tue, 31 Aug 1999 15:24:10 -0400
Message-Id: <Pine.LNX.4.04.9908311424520.21334-100000@milan.essential.org>
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Sender: stop-imf@essential.org
From: Robert Weissman <rob@essential.org>
To: Multiple recipients of list STOP-IMF <stop-imf@essential.org>
Subject: New approach to debt called for

Botswana Wants New Approach Toward Africa's Debt

From Panafrican News Agency, 30 August 1999

NAIROBI, Kenya (PANA) - The president of Botswana, Festus Mogae, has called for a new approach toward debt alleviation in Africa, saying previous attempts to solve the problem were "too little too late."

Mogae, who is in Nairobi to chair a vital two-day meeting on Africa's debt, said that the situation was deteriorating and it was not enough just to reduce arrears. "The African countries need 100 percent debt relief as we are in a debt trap that is causing havoc in our economies," he told a press conference.

He argued that conditions set by donors rather ignored the prevailing situation in Africa, raging from internal conflicts to poor governance.

"The time frame is too short," he said. "For instance, countries with an unemployment rate of 40 percent are told to reduce the civil service, and do it in three months. We must perform for three years before assistance is granted. That is like telling a drowning man that he must survive for three days before he can be saved."

He said changes in the world economy were constraining Africa's development, adding that "globalisation means both challenges and opportunities...but our debt problem is preventing Africa from taking advantage of the situation."

Mogae stressed that Africa was not opposed to the Structural Adjustment Programme, but noted the need for donors to be persuaded about the debt relief because it was a matter of survival for many African countries.

Africa owes about 350 billion US dollars in external debts.