The International Monetary Fund on Thursday late night gave an urgent lifeline to Rwanda to help reduce impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Fund approved the disbursement of US$109.4 million (Rwf 103billion) to be drawn under the Rapid Credit Facility (RCF). This will serve to meet Rwanda’s urgent balance of payment needs stemming from the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As of Thursday evening, the latest count was 84 confirmed cases of the virus up 2 cases from the previous day. The country is on total lockdown since March 15, and cabinet meeting on Wednesday extended it to April 19. All indications are it may be extended again.
In the virtual meeting chaired by President Paul Kagame, they discussed the economic impact of the pandemic as they see a country slowly stopping. There is basically no economic activities, apart from people selling food and medicine. Tens of thousands are desperate and hungry.
Commenting on the IMF funding, Tao Zhang, Deputy Managing Director and Acting Chair, said: “The COVID-19 Pandemic has ground Rwanda’s economy to a halt, creating an urgent balance of payments need.”
“To contain and mitigate the spread of the virus, the government swiftly implemented measures that have affected all sectors of the economy. With uncertainties surrounding the duration and spread of the pandemic, the economic fallout could intensify further.”
This is the first COVID-19 emergency funding for an African country. “We are working hard on other requests,” said the Fund in a statement.