The African Development Bank (AfDB) announced that it intends to invest heavily in domestic vaccine manufacturing and in Africa’s healthcare system amid the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
This came on the sidelines of the AfDB’s annual meetings that concluded on Friday.
To date, less than 1 percent of Africa’s adult population has been vaccinated against COVID-19, even as Africa confronts new variants and a rapid rise in the number of cases at a time when the continent’s health and economic responses are hampered by tightening fiscal constraints, according to the AfDB.
During the meetings, the President of the AfDB Akinwumi Adesina revealed that the lives of 1.2 billion people in Africa are at risk, asserting the need to support Africa’s vulnerable populations by ensuring that every African gets access to quality healthcare, health insurance and social protection.
Africa imports up to 70 percent of its pharmaceutical drugs, Adesina added.
Adesina also proposed an African stability mechanism – modeled on a European one – to act as a firewall against external shocks, pledging that the AfDB would strengthen support to African countries as they tackle the pandemic’s economic and health implications.
Ghana’s Finance Minister and Chairperson of the AfDB’s Board of Governors Kenneth Ofori-Atta noted that the AfDB should play a leading role in the continent’s recovery, as Africa risks being left behind as a result of the pandemic
He added that the continent is staring down the possibility of a lost decade, where its economic trajectory pulls further away from that of the rest of the world.
On climate action, British Member of Parliament and Conference of the Parties 26 (COP26) President Alok Sharma, said that it was vital that developed countries deliver on a $100 billion commitment to tackling climate change.
Meanwhile, CEO of the Global Center on Adaptation (GCA) Patrick Verkooijen, lauded the Africa adaptation acceleration program, which is a joint initiative between the GCA and the AfDB, to mobilise $25 billion to accelerate climate change adaptation across the continent.
AfDB’s annual meetings have been convened virtually for the second year because of the pandemic, gathering 81 member countries.
Ghana is anticipated to host next year’s meetings in 2022.