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AfDB’s shareholders back plan to tackle COVID-19

The African Development Bank (AfDB) Group’s shareholders have shown strong support for the bank’s proposals to tackle COVID-19 and this is as the continent faces the possibility of a third wave of infection amid poor vaccine access. This emerged from the 56th Annual Meetings of the bank’s Group. The three-day event, which ended at the weekend, included the 47th meeting of the Governors of the African Development Fund, the bank’s concessional lending arm.

Part of the proposal is that the bank, the continent’s only development finance institution with a AAA credit rating, act as a conduit for International Monetary Fund (IMF) special drawing rights, which it would then on-lend to African countries. AfDB’s President, Dr. Akinwumi 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 per cent of public health facilities have basic water and sanitation, and only 31 per cent of healthcare facilities have electricity.

The President underlined the fact that Africa imports 60-70 per cent 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.”

 

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