COVID-19: African economies won’t revive until vaccine deficiency is addressed – AfDB

By Bolaji Ogundele, Accra

The African Development Bank (AfDB) has warned that the economies of countries in Africa would continue to remain in jeopardy until the continent finds an answer to the COVID-19 vaccination debacle.

President of the AfDB, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, who gave the insight yesterday in Ghana while addressing the Economic Community of West African States’ (ECOWAS) Authority of Heads of State and Government in Accra, Ghana, emphasised the need for the continent to take the challenge to start the production of its own vaccines, not just for COVID-19, but also to create a safeguard against future outbreaks.

While giving perspective to the financial risk that the menace of unconquered COVID-19 pandemic poses to the continent, especially the West African sub-region, he said there is the need for leaders of the continent to immediately commence strengthening the defenses of the health sector.

“The African Development Bank moved very quickly to launch a $10 billion facility to support countries. We also launched a $3,000,000,000 to fight COVID social bond on the global capital markets, which was the largest social bond ever in world history. Now, things are looking up again.

“The African Development Bank projects for Africa GDP growth will rebound to 3.4%,” he said, adding,  “The African Development Bank will ramp up support for Africa to produce vaccines as part of the vaccines plan for the African Union. The bank will also commit $3 billion to develop the pharmaceutical industry in Africa.

“It is now time to rapidly build a healthcare defense system for Africa to tackle this and future pandemics. The African Development Bank plans to invest in building quality healthcare infrastructure in Africa”, he said.

Adesina went on to raise the alarm over the alarming debt challenge of the African continent, calling particular attention to the situation in the West African sub-region.

He, however, proffered a solution to the crisis of debts, which he said low-income West African countries would need as much as $245 billion to fix, advising that there already appeared to be a relief presented through the Special Drawing Rights (SDR), offered by the G7 countries.

“We must also now tackle the debt challenge facing the sub-region and indeed all of Africa. Africa will need significant financial support. Low-income Sub-Saharan African countries will need $245 billion by 2030 in additional gross financing, while the whole of sub-Saharan Africa will need $425 billion over the same period,” he said.

“We now have a real opportunity to tackle Africa’s debt challenges more decisively with the recent decision of the IMF to issue Special Drawing Rights, otherwise called SDRs. The G7 Global Leader Summit, which followed your call for this, or the Paris meeting on financing, gave the green light for allocating $100 billion of SDR to Africa. This will open the way for much bigger relief for Africa,” Adesina said.

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