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IMF approves additional $111.06 million to Rwanda to address COVID-19 pandemic

NAIROBI (Reuters) - The International Monetary Fund said on Thursday it had approved an additional $111.06 million disbursement to Rwanda to address the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the country’s economy.

“Rwanda’s economic outlook has worsened since the approval of the first (Rapid Credit Facility) request on April 2, 2020, leading to a further downward revision in the 2020 GDP growth forecast from 5.1 to 2.0 percent due to deepening of the COVID-19 impact,” the IMF said in a statement.

The funding brings total IMF COVID-19 support to Rwanda to $220.46 million, it said, and will help finance the country’s urgent balance of payments and budget needs.

The central African country implemented one of Africa’s strictest lockdowns to try to stem the spread of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus, including shuttering some businesses, closing borders and schools.

Authorities have since begun to gradually open up the economy, although some restrictions remain.

“The unprecedented spending needs generated by the pandemic, combined with losses of revenues, are putting significant pressures on public finances,” the IMF said.

Rwanda’s economy partly depends on tourism earnings, but the sector has virtually ground to a halt during the outbreak.

Rwanda has so far had 476 cases of COVID-19 and two deaths.

Reporting by Omar Mohammed; Editing by Chris Reese and Peter Cooney

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