Debt relief, vaccines critical to Africa’s recovery – AfDB boss

The President of the African Development Bank, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, has said fair access to COVID-19 vaccines and debt relief will help African economies recover faster and better from the pandemic.

Adesina said this at a virtual event held in his honour on Monday as the outgoing African of the Year of African Leadership Magazine, according to a statement on Wednesday.

He warned that so long as the coronavirus was unchecked in any part of the world, no one would be safe.

“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,” Adesina said.

“The world must not short-change Africa on access to vaccines,” he added.

He also said significant debt relief would be key to accelerating African economies’ recovery from the COVID-19 crisis.

“To recover faster, Africa will need significant debt forgiveness from bilateral and official creditors,” he said during the virtual event attended by the Governor of the Nigerian state of Bayelsa, Douye Diri, and the Chairman of Contec Global Worldwide, Benoy Berry.

Adesina added, “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.”

According to the statement, a highlight of the conversation was Adesina’s induction into the magazine’s African Leadership Hall of Fame for “raising the performance bar” in Africa.

The Chairman, African Leadership Magazine, Ken Giami, said the AfDB had scored some outstanding achievements in 2020 under Adesina and had “infected” Africa with optimism.

Giami said, “ALM feels very proud of the President’s contribution as he has raised the performance bar for future African of the Year winners. Indeed, his award was a call for greater service to the people, especially at a time when Africa needed true leadership.”

Adesina vowed that the AfDB, in collaboration with its partners, would continue to lead Africa’s recovery and development after the pandemic, with a focus on youth, women and healthcare.

He said, “Together, we will create new opportunities for African youth and trigger a youth-based wealth system for Africa. Together, we will ensure that we deliver financing for African women.

“Together, we will support Africa to build world-class, quality healthcare infrastructure, while ensuring also that the continent builds its pharmaceutical and vaccine industrial production.”

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