AFRICAN Development Bank (AfDB) president Dr Akinwunmi Adesina has warned that the continent desperately needs debt relief and fair access to one of the coronavirus vaccine if it is to overcome the economic fallout of the pandemic.
Since the outbreak if the Covid-19 pandemic just over a year ago, African economies have been hit hard as global demand for their commodities has dwindled significantly. With most African countries dependent on the sale of primary raw materials to survive, the collapse in global manufacturing and industry has left them with little revenue.
With these countries having to import finished goods and medicines at exorbitant prices, the African continent is facing a bleak 2021. Borrowing is on the rise and very few African nations can afford to finance their annual budgets as their expenditures have outstripped revenue coming in.
Things have been complicated further by the fact that no African country produces any coronavirus vaccine, meaning it will have to be purchased on the global market. Several programmes have been introduced through the World Bank such as the Covax initiative to enable African nations get the vaccine at subsidised rates.
Speaking at a virtual event held in his honour as the outgoing African of the Year of African Leadership Magazine, Mr Adesina warned that so long as the coronavirus was unchecked in any part of the world, no one would be safe. He added that significant debt relief would be key to accelerating African economies’ recovery from the Covid-19 crisis.
Mr Adesina said: “There is light at the end of the tunnel, it just happens to be a very long tunnel. I am very positive that African economies will bounce back over the next two years but the speed of recovery will depend on ensuring that Africa gets enough vaccines for its population.
“The world must not short-change Africa on access to vaccines. To recover faster, Africa will also need significant debt forgiveness from bilateral and official creditors.
“While developed countries have been spending trillions of dollars for fiscal stimulus, Africa does not have such resources. The payment for vaccines is already adding to the already high debt burden.”
African Leadership Magazine chairman Ken Giami said the AfDB had scored some outstanding achievements in 2020 under Dr Adesina and had infected Africa with optimism. He added that the AfDB president has raised the performance bar for future African of the Year winners.