Akinwumi Adesina, the AfDB president, disclosed this intention at a virtual ‘finance in common spring’ meeting convened in collaboration with the Association of African Development Finance Institutions (AADFI) and the International Development Finance Club (IDFC).
He said the bank will also seek support for the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) with $28m to strengthen its capacity to tackle the vaccines problem.
“The bank plans to launch a major effort to build Africa’s pharmaceutical industry to which we plan to invest $3 billion in the next ten years,” he said.
“The bank is also currently working with partners on how best support can be extended in the financing of vaccines manufacturing on the continent.”
He projected a gradual recovery of African economies from the COVID-19 pandemic, with an expected gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 3.4 percent this year.
“That recovery is expected to be across the board for oil-exporting countries, tourism-dependent economies, commodity dependent economies and non-resource dependent economies,” he elaborated.
“But all these depend on access to vaccines and tackling the issue of Africa’s debt,” the bank president declared.
Tackling the issue of Africa’s debt needs to be top priority, which he described as critical for the continent’s financial market stability in the short and medium term.
“Without a resolution of Africa’s $700bn external debt, Africa’s economic recovery will be like running up a steep hill with a backpack full of sand,” he cautioned.
Adesina said the issuance of special drawing rights (SDR) by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), if well used, would support the recovery process in Africa and address the debt challenge.
He urged that part of the SDR issuance be directed to support public development banks with additional resources to enable countries to ‘build back better,’ greener and with climate and environmental resilience, while creating job opportunities for the youth.
A share of the SDR issuance should be used to pay down some of Africa’s huge private commercial debt, while bringing the debt issue into the G20 common framework for debt restructuring, he stated.
“It is clear that if this is not done, when the debt payments become due from 2023/2024 with bunching of payments, many countries will not be able to meet their obligations, which could trigger massive and widespread credit downgrades across Africa,” he added