In a statement released in Dar es Salaam yesterday, the World Bank said African finance ministers and the World Bank Group had just met to fast-track vaccine accessibility on the continent and avoid a third wave.
“The World Bank and the AU announced that they are partnering to support the Africa Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT) initiative with resources to allow countries to purchase and deploy vaccines for up to 400 million people across Africa,” it said.
This extraordinary regional effort complements the COVAX initiative and it comes at a time of rising COVID-19 cases in the region. The statement indicated that World Bank financing is available to support the purchase and deployment of doses secured under the AVATT umbrella.
World Bank Group President David Malpass said that the bank was pleased to support African countries through partnership with the African Union to quickly provide hundreds of millions of doses.
Strive Masiyiwa, African Union special envoy and coordinator of the AVATT initiative said African institutions such as the Africa Import Export Bank and the Africa Centre for Disease Control will also be involved, ensuring that there is capacity to vaccinate at least 400m people, or 30percent of the continent’s 1.3bn inhabitants.
“We really appreciate the extraordinary partnership on this initiative between the AU Vaccine Champion, President Cyril Ramaphosa, and David Malpass, the President of the World Bank,” he said in gratitude.
The World Bank has put up $12 billion in vaccine financing available to help countries purchase and distribute vaccines and address readiness issues.
It has approved operations to support vaccine roll out in 36 countries, and by end of June, it will be supporting vaccination efforts in 50 countries, two thirds of them in Africa.
The World Bank-financed COVID-19 vaccine operations allow countries to purchase vaccines through COVAX, regional initiatives or bilateral procurement from manufacturers.
“As such, the Bank has been working closely with AVATT to see that countries in Africa can use World Bank financing to purchase COVID-19 doses through the AVATT initiative as well,” the statement furthered.
The task team is an initiative of the African Union Commission, Africa CDC, Afreximbank, AU Special Envoys for COVID-19 and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) to provide the continent with sufficient and timely access to COVID-19 vaccines.
“A key priority in this initiative is to make sure the purchase of vaccines translates into people getting vaccinated,” noted Vera Songwe, the ECA Executive Secretary.
The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the World Bank Group’s private sector arm, is leading a consortium to support Africa’s regional vaccine production. Work toward investments in South Africa, Senegal and Rwanda is at an advanced stage, it added.