COTE D’IVOIRE – The African Development Bank Group’s shareholders have shown strong support for the Bank’s proposals to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic, and this 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 Group. The three-day event, which ended on Friday, 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.
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.
Africa’s economy has witnessed regression since the onset of the pandemic. For 2020, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimated that the economy of sub-Saharan Africa would shrink 3.0 percent, whereas per capita income dropped 5.3 percent and back to 2013 levels in the space of just a few months.
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.
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.
The meetings comprised closed-door discussions between the governors (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.
Green growth was high on the agenda. In a panel discussion, Alok Sharma, British Member of Parliament and Conference of the Parties (COP) 26 President, said it was vital that developed countries deliver on a $100 billion commitment to tackling climate change.
Patrick Verkooijen, CEO of the Global Center on Adaptation (GCA), lauded the Africa Adaptation Acceleration Program, a joint initiative between the GCA and the African Development Bank to mobilize $25 billion to accelerate climate change adaptation across Africa.
For the second successive year, the Bank’s 81 member countries met virtually, a poignant illustration of how the pandemic continues to disrupt daily life and work. Ghana will host the next Annual Meetings in 2022.