Ethiopia to get $10.5 billion if IMF, World Bank talks succeed, PM says

By Dawit Endeshaw

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Ethiopia will receive $10.5 billion in support over the coming years if long-running negotiations with the International Monetary Fund and World Bank are successful, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said on Thursday.

In December, East Africa’s most populous country, struggling with high inflation and chronic foreign currency shortages, became the third on the continent in as many years to default on its debt.

Sources familiar with the matter previously told Reuters that Ethiopia was seeking to borrow around $3.5 billion under a reform programme with the IMF, while a Western diplomat said it was also trying to secure $3.5 billion in budget support from the World Bank and find another $3.5 billion in savings through debt restructuring.

Analysts say Ethiopia may need to agree to devalue its birr currency, which trades about 50% weaker than the official exchange rate on the black market, to secure IMF support.

“We have been having a wide range of talks, negotiations and discussions with the IMF and World Bank. Because we were a bit tough with them and they were also tough with us, the (talks) took five years,” Abiy told lawmakers.

“Now with the support of some friendly countries, it seems like many of our ideas have been accepted. If this succeeds and we are able to agree on the reforms, Ethiopia will get $10.5 billion in the coming years,” he said.

Abiy added that there were some reforms the government was unwilling to undertake right away, without elaborating.

“There are some areas we think should be reformed now, and there are things we think should stay as it is. If all these suggestions get accepted and we agree, there is an opportunity ahead of us. This reform agenda will play a huge impact in alleviating the debt burden,” the prime minister said.

(Reporting by Dawit Endeshaw; writing by Hereward Holland; editing by Alexander Winning and Mark Heinrich)


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