Vaccine inequity is a recurring theme when it comes to Africa’s recovery from Covid-19, with climate change, debt levels and investment shortfalls also needed.
Participants of a G20 Compact with Africa meeting assessed Africa’s progress in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic.
The conference, which promotes macroeconomic, business and financing reforms to attract more private investment in Africa, including in infrastructure, brought together heads of state of the 12 Compact members and institutional partners, including the African Development Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
It involved strategy discussions around attracting higher inflows of foreign direct investment to Africa and the urgent imperative to develop vaccine manufacture capability on the African continent.
Securing the continent’s recovery from the impacts of Covid-19 is one of the Compact’s near-term objectives.
Regarding vaccine inequity, heads of state shared reforms they have undertaken as part of the initiative. Closer international co-operation was urged to address climate change, debt levels and investment shortfalls.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa emphasises that “Africa will not be able to recover until Africans are vaccinated.”
President Emmanuel Macron said France have committed to providing 10-million vaccine doses for Africa.
African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina says the African Development Bank has committed to investing $3-billion to support vaccine manufacturing across Africa, while World Bank President David Malpass highlights vaccine financing programs set up in 54 countries, noting that more than half of these are in Africa.
African leaders agree on the need for vaccine self-sufficiency as a longer-term solution. President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana says there should have been lessons learned from Ebola, and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen points to the initiative to develop mRNA technology in Africa across different regional hubs.
Adesina adds: “We have seen a lot of improvement in public private partnerships and in the cost and ease of doing business but also in terms of the companies that are investing in a lot of African countries.” He also underscores the African Continental Free Trade Area and its expected impacts.
Other constraints include rising levels of debt and restricted fiscal space resulting from the pandemic. “The reduction of liquidity hit us hard,” says Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi.
Although Ghana sustained growth through 2020, President Akufo-Addo acknowledges that national debt had risen to 77,1% of GDP.
Many speakers note that reforms are yielding results, with many Compact countries outperform their peers, according to The IMF’s Georgieva.
Ethiopia Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed adds his country had stabilised its debt through prudent management and opened up its telecom sector for investment.