How health, economic efforts can fight COVID-19 – AfDB Chief

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The African Development Bank (AfDB) Group has urged that accelerated global health and economic efforts be put in place to help fight the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in Africa, saying the crisis has put the continent’s collective humanity at stake.

President, AfDB, Akinwumi Adesina, made this call yesterday, during a webinar of the global Corporate Council on Africa (CCA).

He stressed the need for the United States of America (U.S.A.), African government officials, and corporate executives to forge new and sustainable partnerships that would endure beyond the pandemic, as “one death is one too many.”

He noted the compelling need to pay attention to underlying global inequalities, and the impact of the global crisis on rich and poor countries, and urged Africans to be their brothers’ keepers. Adesina’s call even as he disclosed that the Bank’s $3billion “Fight COVID-19” bond, the largest ever US dollar-denominated social bond was oversubscribed at $4.6billion, and is being listed on the London Stock Exchange.

He noted that AfDB also launched a $10billion COVID-19 Response Facility, to assist African governments and businesses.

His words: “The Bank’s response package includes $5.5billion earmarked for African governments, $3.1billion for countries that fall under the Bank’s concessionary African Development Fund and $1.4billion for the private sector.

Responding to several questions about Africa’s healthcare system, Adesina said the region needs to drastically double the spending in the sector, citing the acute shortage of facilities and pharmaceutical companies on the continent as investment and development opportunities.

“While China is home to 7,000 pharmaceutical companies, and India 11,000, Africa by contrast has only 375, even though its population is roughly equal to half of the combined population of both Asian giants. While COVID-19 infection rates are relatively low compared to the rest of the world, there is a growing sense of urgency given the acute absence of healthcare infrastructure on the continent,” he said.

Adesina therefore urged multilateral institutions to align and step up their collective efforts with regard to Africa’s debt, manage their ratings, and work together with rating agencies.