The African Development Bank (AfDB) has said the $10 billion COVID-19 relief facility it began disbursing since the heat of the pandemic in 2020 is boosting the recovery of several African countries.
The Vice President, Regional Development, Integration and Business Delivery Complex, Khaled Sherif, stated this at the bank’s pre-annual meetings virtual press conference.
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“Out of the 54 African countries, 43 saw a decline in domestic revenue ranging from 30 to 70 per cent. Regional trade was paralysed in many parts of Africa with the borders closed,” he said.
He also said Africa is a net importer of food, purchasing food of about $135 billion annually while export was down from the continent. Six countries struggled to finance their sovereign debts because of the oil price collapse and the pandemic while eight others found it hard to pay their civil servants and domestic debts.
Sherif said it became imperative for the bank to find a way to assist regional member countries in terms of financing bilateral debts and ensuring that state-owned enterprises and private sector firms do not fail.
“So the AfDB created what is known as the crisis relief facility and it was a $10 billion facility including $5.2bn for COVID relief to help countries that were affected by COVID,” he also said.
According to the Director of Human Capital, Youth and Skills at AfDB, Martha Phiri, Africa does not have adequate supply of vaccines so it is important for the continent to look towards developing the capacity to manufacture vaccines.
“It will be extremely important that the bank talks on this important issue at the annual meeting,” she said.
The Vice President and Chief Finance Officer, Bajubile Swazi Tshabalala, said AfDB is committed towards improving its presence in the health sector of African countries through its High Five programme that includes industrialising Africa, power supply and water and sanitation.
“We feel that responding and helping African countries respond to the pandemic lines very well with the bank’s High 5, and we are working resolutely to make sure that the continent is better prepared next time,” the officer stated.