The African Development Bank (AfDB) Group plans to invest “heavily” in the domestic manufacturing of vaccines and in African the healthcare system, according to the president of the bank, Dr Akinwumi Adesina.
The AfDB president also underlined the fact that Africa still imported 60 per cent to 70 percent of its pharmaceutical drugs.
“The lives of 1.2 billion people in Africa are at risk,” he said.
He added: “We must give hope to the poor, and the vulnerable, by ensuring that every African, regardless of their income level, gets access to quality healthcare, as well as health insurance and social protection.”
COVID-19: African economies won’t revive until vaccine deficiency is addressed – AfDB
Akinwunmi proposed an African stability mechanism, to act as a firewall against external shocks and pledged the bank’s commitment to strengthen support to African countries.
Under the proposal,the AfDB will act as a conduit for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) special drawing rights, which it would then on-lend to African countries.
He said the support would be towards tackling the economic and health impacts of the pandemic.
Mr Kenneth Ofori-Atta, Ghana’s Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, urged the AfDB to take a leading role in the continent’s recovery.
“Our bank, distinct in its role, has to be at the centre of Africa’s build-back, through targeted support to tackle Africa’s development challenges and lay the foundation to respond to future challenges,” Ofori-Atta said.
Meanwhile, green growth was also high on the agenda.
In a panel discussion, Mr Alok Sharma, British Member of Parliament and President of the Conference of the Parties (COP) 26, said it was vital that developed countries delivered on a 100-billion-dollar commitment to tackling climate change.
Mr Patrick Verkooijen, Chief Executive Officer of the Global Centre on Adaptation (GCA), lauded the Africa Adaptation Acceleration Programme (AAAP).
AAAP is a joint initiative between the GCA and AfDB to mobilise 25 billion dollars to accelerate climate change adaptation across Africa.
The 2021 Annual Meetings of the AfDB had the 56th Annual Meetings of the Bank Group, and the 47th meeting of the Governors of the African Development Fund, the bank’s concessional lending arm.
The meetings included closed-door discussions between finance ministers and central bank governors of the regional and non-regional member countries of the bank, and knowledge events on healthcare, debt sustainability and climate change.
In attendance were IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva, World Trade Organisation Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed.
Former United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who is President and Chairperson of the Global Green Growth Institute, was also among the panelists.
The bank’s 81- member countries met virtually for a second successive year.
Ghana will host the next Annual Meetings in 2022.