MOSCOW (IDN) – The World Bank has expressed readiness to commit US$12 billion as concessional loans to assist African countries access foreign vaccines.
During a virtual meeting on the Africa COVID-19 Vaccine Financing and Deployment Strategy, the World Bank informed that the emergency vaccine financing projects in Africa, include Ghana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Niger, Mozambique, Tunisia, Eswatini and Cabo Verde.
The funds are available now, and for most African countries, the financing would be on grant or highly concessional terms, adding that the International Finance Corporation (IFC) is working to mobilize financing for vaccine production and therapeutics focused on developing countries.
The IFC is a member of the World Bank Group and is headquartered in Washington, D.C.
Since the outbreak of Covid-19 last March, the bank has committed $25 billion to African countries to support their health and economic recovery and would commit an additional $15 billion by June.
“In implementing our vaccines programmes, we’re working directly with governments, including to finance their purchases from vaccine manufacturers and via COVAX. For deployment efforts, we’re working with partners such as the WHO and UNICEF,” World Bank Group President, David Malpass, informed the meeting.
“I urge you to focus and prioritize efforts toward these funding programs, and not slow the momentum through complex contracts and intermediaries. Our financing is available today and vaccine manufacturers are eager to work with countries on delivery dates and direct contracts,” he assured.
He said at the virtual meeting: “Country Directors and Country Managers have been in contact with all of you. We would encourage those countries that have not yet requested World Bank support to send a letter to their World Bank Country Director asking for support for vaccine procurement and deployment from the $12 billion facility. We look forward to receiving these letters so that our teams can expeditiously support you.”
He urged leaders of African countries to move quickly to secure vaccinations for their populations, and to avail themselves of the financing available from the Bank and other partners to help with this. “The World Bank Group stands ready to work swiftly with our clients and partners to respond to this pandemic,” he added.
The cost of vaccinating 60% of Africa’s 1.3 billion people would be between $10 billion and $15 billion, according to the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
The continent has secured 36% of its vaccine needs, with 25% of the doses to come from the Covax initiative and 11% from a separate African Union program, the Africa CDC said. But it’s far behind the rest of the world in terms of acquisition and inoculations, with richer nations having secured the scarce shots early.
The African Union has secured an additional 400 million doses of coronavirus vaccines for its members. An earlier announcement by the AU said that it had secured 270 million vaccine doses.
Most African countries have not begun vaccinating their populations, lacking the financial means to purchase the drugs that have largely been scooped up by developed countries. The Serum Institute of India is producing a vaccine using the Oxford-AstraZeneca formula, under the name of Covishield, for India and other developing countries.
During the virtual 2021 World Economic Forum (WEF) late January, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa lashed “vaccine nationalism,” accusing rich countries of bulk-buying coronavirus vaccines and hoarding them to the detriment of others.
As IDN learned, Morocco, Egypt, Seychelles and Guinea had begun vaccinations, while Mauritius announced the start of its campaign late January. South Africa accounts for the biggest number of Africa’s coronavirus cases.
The overall number of Covid-19 cases in Africa currently stands more than 3.5 million, according to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Regional Office for Africa. [IDN-InDepthNews – 03 February 2021]
* Kester Kenn Klomegah is a frequent and passionate contributor to IDN. During his professional career as a researcher specialising in Russia-Africa policy, which spans nearly two decades, he has been detained and questioned several times by federal security services for reporting facts. Most of his well-resourced articles are reprinted in a number of reputable foreign media.
Photo Credit: WHOAFRO
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