No fewer than 39 million Africans will go into extreme poverty in the current year, if there is no serious plan by African governments to ameliorate it.
To this end, the president of the Africa Development Bank (AfDB), Akinwunmi Adesina, has called for a debt relief for countries on the continent to cope with current harsh economic realities.
Speaking during an interview on CNN yesterday, Adesina said, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Africa had gone down by $175 billion. “Last year, 30 million people went into extreme poverty. This year, if that trend continues, 39 million people are going into extreme poverty, hunger and so on.”
He stated that the economic outlook was not all bad news, but that any positives rely on access to vaccinations, saying, “we project that Africa will grow back. We project 3.4 per cent grow back this year, but all of that is conditional on two things, one is access to vaccines, secondly the issue of debt. I think that’s important to improve access of Africa to vaccines. We need to have vaccine solidarity, COVAX is doing a great job but the amounts are still minuscule as far as we are concerned.”
Adesina also stressed the need for global cooperation to end the pandemic, saying, “we deal with this pandemic in one part of the world, and we don’t deal with other parts of the world, we’re all going back to square one.
“So far 14.6 million vaccines have been delivered in Africa and people can’t even get shots in their hands. And that 14.6 million is only one per cent of what we need actually to get to 60 per cent of herd immunity. We are way off mark on that. I think that’s important to improve access of Africa to vaccines.
“So, you’re looking at at least 840 million doses. I don’t see that happening for another year or two because of the slow pace of producing the vaccine and getting them out. It just going to be very, very difficult and I’m quite concerned about that. And of course, the longer it takes for Africans to get vaccinated, of course now you see Europe saying you can’t travel if you don’t have the vaccine passports, people are going to think Africa is the last zone to get access to vaccines. I don’t want that to happen. So for us at the African Development Bank we also have to look beyond the current situation, looking medium term and also long term,” he pointed out.
On the need to produce vaccines in Africa, Adesina said: “I can’t accept that 1.4 billion people have to be running from pillar to post looking for vaccines. We, at the African Development Bank, have therefore decided that we’re going to support Africa to have quality health care infrastructure and also make sure that it develops its own pharmaceutical capacity. We ought to be producing vaccines in Africa.”