Shareholders of the African Development Bank Group have shown “strong support” for the Bank’s proposals to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic as the continent faces the possibility of a third wave of the infection amid poor vaccine access.
This emerged from the 56th Annual Meetings of the Bank Group. The three-day event, which ended on Friday, June 25, 2021.
Part of the group’s proposal is that the Bank, the continent’s only development finance institution with should act as a conduit for International Monetary Fund (IMF) special drawing rights, which it would then on-lend to African countries, particularly to access COVID-19 vaccines.
African Development Bank Group President Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina proposed an African stability mechanism, modeled on a European one, to act as a firewall against external shocks. Adesina also pledged that the Bank would strengthen support to African countries as they tackle the pandemic’s economic and health impacts.
Looking ahead, Adesina said the Bank would invest heavily in domestic vaccine manufacturing and in Africa’s healthcare system, noting that only 51% of public health facilities have basic water and sanitation, and only 31% of healthcare facilities have electricity. The president underlined the fact that Africa imports 60-70% of its pharmaceutical drugs.
Kenneth Ofori-Atta, Ghana’s Finance Minister and Chairperson of the African Development Bank Board of Governors cautioned at the start of the meetings that Africa risked being left behind as a result of the pandemic and was “staring down the possibility of a lost decade, where its economic trajectory pulls further away from that of the rest of the world.” He said the African Development Bank should take a leading role in the continent’s recovery.
To date, less than 1% of Africa’s adult population has been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, even as Africa confronts new variants and fast-rising cases while the continent’s health and economic responses are hampered by tightening fiscal constraints.