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MTN backs Africa’s COVID-19 vaccination bid with $25m

Telecommunications group, MTN, said it has donated $25 million to support the African Union’s COVID-19 vaccination programme. The donation, the group said, would help secure up to seven million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine for health workers across the continent, which would contribute to the vaccination initiative of the Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC).

“The devastating impact of COVID-19 has been unprecedented and profound. Public and private partnerships are needed if we are to succeed in the fight against the pandemic and restore social and economic norms for our continent and our communities,” President and Chief Executive Officer of MTN Group, Ralph Mupita, said in a statement released yesterday. Chairperson of the African Union, President Cyril Ramaphosa, had, on 14 January 2021, announced that the African Union had secured a provisional 270 million COVID-19 vaccine doses on behalf of its member states, through advance procurement commitment guarantees of up to $2 billion to the manufacturers by the African Export-Import Bank. “This was an important milestone in efforts to ensure equitable access to the COVID-19 vaccine for Africa’s people.

However, with a population of about 1.3 billion, Africa requires many more doses to achieve at least 60 per cent herd immunity. Contributions by private organisations like MTN, are, therefore, essential to help the continent reach its target.

“Our goal is to ensure that all those who need the COVID-19 vaccine have access to it very quickly, but the biggest hurdle in Africa has been the financing of the vaccines, and the logistics of vaccinating at scale. We, therefore, welcome the right partnerships, like the one with MTN, to achieve our minimum 60 per cent vaccination target,” said Director of Africa CDC, Dr. John Nkengasong.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, MTN has made significant contributions to help limit the spread of the disease and save lives and livelihoods within its African market. The company said this donation is another example of its efforts to help find lasting solutions to solve the challenges facing the continent and to guarantee a healthy Africa, for all Africans. “We believe ongoing collaborations with key stakeholders across sectors are essential as vaccines are deployed in all our markets, with communication tools, technology and digital services being vital support infrastructure for a successful mass vaccination programme. “In the coming months, MTN Group will look at similar support commitments for the markets in which we operate in the Middle East,” Mupita said.

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