African Development Bank Group president Dr Akinwumi A. Adesina has again urged regional leaders to focus on vaccine production and access for the African continent as the Covid-19 epidemic continues to take lives and hurt economies and livelihoods.
Adesina addressed leaders of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) at a special summit held on Saturday, just days before the Bank Group’s 2021 Annual meetings, scheduled for 23-25 June.
“Africa needs solutions to help it navigate through the very challenging times posed by the Covid-19 pandemic,” Adesina said. “But the rebound will depend on access to vaccines.”
The African Development Bank will support the continent as part of the vaccines plan of the African Union. It is planning to commit $3 billion to develop the pharmaceutical industry in Africa, Adesina said. “Africa should not be begging for vaccines,” Adesina said. “Africa should be producing vaccines,” he stressed.
In recent months, the African Development Bank president has publicly emphasized the need to rapidly build a health care defense system for the continent, to tackle Covid-19 and future pandemics.
The Bank has already channeled $2 million in emergency assistance to the World HealthOrganization to bolster the WHO’s capacity for infection prevention, testing, and casemanagement.
It has also provided $28 million in funding to the Africa Centres for DiseaseControl and Prevention (Africa CDC) for a Covid-19 response project. This will strengthencapacity to coordinate the Covid-19 response and future epidemics across Africa.This year, the Bank is organizing its annual meetings around the theme, “Building ResilientEconomies in Post Covid-19 Africa.”
The meetings will provide a platform for its governors toshare their countries’ experience in addressing the pandemic and the policy measures they areemploying to rebuild economies and livelihoods.
In their communiqué, the ECOWAS heads welcomed the recent decision by G7 nations toprovide additional vaccines to developing countries.
They encouraged the West Africa HealthOrganization to intensify its efforts to mobilize partnerships to produce Covid-19 vaccines inAfrica.
Adesina said the recent decision by the International Monetary Fund to issue special drawingrights (SDRs) provides a real opportunity to rebuild back better and greener and to tackleAfrica’s debt challenges, more decisively. “The G-7 Leaders’ summit last week gave the greenlight for allocating $100 billion of SDRs to Africa.
This will open the way for much-needed relief for Africa,” he noted. African leaders, at a summit in Paris in May, called for the African Development Bank to receiveSDRs on behalf of African countries, and to use them to on-lend to African public developmentbanks. Adesina said it would be important to allocate some of this to buy down Africa’s “veryexpensive debt” owed to private creditors that will engaged with the international community.
The Bank president, who has proposed an African Financial Stability Mechanism to protect thecontinent against external shocks, said such a mechanism was critical. “It will require that wemutualize our resources, avoid regional spillover effects, regionalize fiscal policy rules, develophomegrown reforms and debt-resolution approaches, and provide a regional safety net that willcomplement the global safety net of the International Monetary Fund,” he said.
Adesina also touched on insecurity on the continent, highlighting that terrorist actions affectcountries all across the continent, including the Sahel and the Lake Chad Basin as well as theHorn of Africa regions which must re-direct huge resources from their development programs.He said: “These insecurity situations now pose the biggest risks to Africa’s development. Wemust now link security to investment, growth and development.”The African Development Bank is calling for the development of security-indexed investmentbonds.
Taking advantage of low long-term interest rates, these bonds will allow Africa toleverage resources on the global capital markets to reinforce its security in support of growth anddevelopment, and to protect investments.The bonds can be delivered through special purpose vehicles, established on behalf of a pool ofAfrican countries.
The African Development Bank and other development partners can credit-enhance them. Administering the bond proceeds would be managed under the auspices of theAfrican Union’s Peace and Security Council and regional economic communities.
The ECOWAS leaders’ communiqué commended the African Development Bank Group forlaunching a facility to support African countries — including ECOWAS member states — toaddress the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic. It also welcomed the Bank’s support to the G5Sahel countries as they seek to strengthen national health systems, and for its support to the WestAfrica Health Organization.