Ghana’s President, John Dramani Mahama has said that the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has put in a special appeal to its development partners and the international donor community to write-off the debts of the most affected Ebola countries in West Africa. President Mahama who is the current chairperson of ECOWAS said this in a press briefing on proceedings of the just-ended African Union Summit in Ethiopia after his arrival back home in Ghana over the weekend. This he said would enable the countries-Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone to re-invest in the socio-economic sectors of their economies to avoid their economies from collapsing. Experts in economics have warned in the recent past that if the debts of the Ebola affected countries are not canceled, their economies are likely to collapse.
Apart from the debt cancelation ECOWAS asked, the regional body will also help the Ebola countries to develop their human skills needed to sustain their economies in the short term. President Mahama observed that the affected countries had suffered a lot and therefore the forgiveness of the debts would give them an opportunity to re-build their economies to ensure investor confidence in their countries. ``We are putting measures in place in the short term to help our brothers and sisters, it is not only about the debt write-off, ECOWAS will initiate skills building programs to strengthening their capacity to be able to help them recover from the devastation of the disease’’, he said.
The United Nations has urged donor countries in the past to cancel debts of the Ebola affected countries to enable them recover. Donor countries in West Africa including the US and the UK have not responded to this request and is unclear whether they will heed to this appealed by ECOWAS. The Ebola outbreak in West Africa was first reported in March 2014, and has rapidly become the deadliest occurrence of the disease since its discovery in 1976. The disease has killed more than 8,690 people in Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone. Some deaths have also been reported in Nigeria and Mali.The World Health Organization admits that the death figures are underestimates, given the difficulty of collecting data.