KENYA — The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has pledged US$7 billion to Africa over the next four years to support African countries and institutions working to develop and implement innovative solutions in health, agriculture, gender equality, and other critical areas.
The Foundation’s pledge, which is 40% more than what it spent in the previous four years, will go toward projects that address hunger, disease, poverty, and gender inequality. Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, will receive the greatest proportion.
This new commitment to support African countries is in addition to existing Gates Foundation funding to multilateral organizations, including Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria.
These resources have helped strengthen health systems and increase access to health care in African countries, contributing to dramatic reductions in the rate of child deaths from diseases such as diarrheal diseases, pneumonia, malaria, and measles.
During his trip to Kenya, Gates spent time visiting primary healthcare centers, leading medical and agricultural research institutes to listen to and learn from Kenyan and regional partners about what programs and approaches are making an impact, what obstacles remain, and how the foundation can better support future progress.
In speaking to more than 500 students at the University of Nairobi—and thousands more across Africa who tuned in virtually—Bill Gates said Africa’s young people have the talent and opportunity to accelerate progress and help solve the world’s most pressing problems.
In addition to COVID-19, the African region is also battling other health challenges triggered by outbreaks of communicable diseases, humanitarian crises, climatic shocks as well as the rising burden of chronic diseases such as cancer and diabetes.
Every year, the region faces more than 100 health emergencies, more than any other region in the world.
Kenya and much of East Africa are in the grip of their worst drought in four decades.
Drought, combined with conflict and the COVID-19 pandemic, has pushed more than 10 million people in the region “to the brink of a hunger crisis,” according to World Vision, a Christian relief organization based in the United States.
Following a meeting with Kenyan President William Ruto, Gates said that the Foundation would establish a regional office in Nairobi.
The foundation is calling on global leaders to step up their commitments to finding solutions and strengthening systems in African countries.
This includes investing in people and innovations that can save millions of lives and create opportunities for the world’s most vulnerable.