In a United voice, African Leaders on Tuesday jointly canvassed equitable sharing of the COVID-19 Vaccines to the continent to assist her sustainably recovery from the pandemic that has ravaged her
African leaders including Paul Kagame, President, Republic of Rwanda; Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala; Managing Director, International Financial Corporation (IFC) Makharar Sop Diop and Director General of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Tedros Adhanom at the United Bank for Africa (UBA) Africa Convention 2021 are in unison against the poor supply of the vaccine which has affected the recovery of the continent from the dreaded pandemic.
The event tagged UBA Africa Day, with the theme “Africa to the World” and moderated by its Chairman, Tony Elumelu had leaders of multilateral institutions who are Africans in attendance
According to InsideBusiness, while speaking, the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala lamented the poor supply of Covid-19 vaccines to Africa, noting that sustainable recovery from the pandemic would only be possible if vaccines inequity is addressed
“Today is Africa day and as we reflect on what it means, for my own part, our youth is what we have. Youth is gold to us if we can mobilize our youth productively to try and recover from this pandemic. I am very proud that the continent has done so well so far in coming together. Our leaders have really tried to build a one African approach by building the vaccines acquisition group, the medical supply smartphone, by bringing together Covid-19 envoys of which I was privileged to be one.
“But if we are to recover sustainably from this crisis, we have to correct the vaccines inequity that is so evident in the world today. The fact that we have vaccinated so little of our population is not acceptable. The fact that Dr Tedrous mentioned that import 99 per cent of our vaccines of 90 percent pharmaceuticals is not acceptable.
IMF study has shown that the vaccine inequity could be reversed and the world can actually gain more than $9 trillion by 2025if if an additional $50 billion additional is spent to vaccinate 40 per cent of the world’s population by 2021, and up to 60 per cent by 2022.
She explained that an additional $1 trillion in taxes could be collected for the purchase of more vaccines to reverse the inequity so that Africa can benefit from it.
The WTO who admitted that Africa cannot recover sustainably without the vaccines said we have to fight for it, whether it’s getting more vaccines in from outside production, whether it’s manufactured here while she assures of the WTO support to keep the supply chain open.
On his part, Makharar Sop Diop, Managing Director, International Financial Corporation (IFC), said, “today is Africa day, but we are facing challenges and adversity. Each time I had opportunity of speaking with President Pail Kagame he always challenge us, he will say the world is difficult, the work is difficult, so what! And I feel these challenges are what bring us together, we must face every challenges confronting the continent and I think we are doing it. Progress has been made in important element and we now have an opportunity to change the face of our continent, we also have a chance and opportunity to transform the continent.
Diop harped on the need for the continent to promote growth and development by ensuring that SMEs and startups are supported.
“Transforming our continent means creating jobs, and promoting growth. To create jobs and growth you need to assist small scale medium enterprises. Small scale companies, startups, employ the youth. We have important reasons to do that. If we take advantage of what we have committed to it. Today our leaders have decided to create a local value chain that is needed in Africa to ensure prosperity in our continent. We are also looking at working with people who know the continent and this is critical to addressing the issues”, Diop said.
“Ngozi, is pulling the strings and doing enough, Dr. Tedros is doing the technical work on health, from my side I am assisting the finance segment with the private sectors, Tony you are the private sector in Africa and we have our leaders president Paul Kagame. So, we are here with increased responsibilities in contributing and making Africa in taking decision and try to move forward. And that is the challenge President Kagame is always putting before us”.
Also speaking in response to the question by Tony Elumelu on what African leaders are doing in combating the rising insecurity on the continent, Paul Kagane, President Republic of Rwanda said the continent must work the talk and stop engaging in its usual academic exercise of mere talking.
“First, I wish we didn’t have to ask the question as to what African leaders are doing to stop the crisis going on across the continent, but rather ask ourselves what we should be doing or should have done to actually prevent them from happening in the first place. Because it’s being decades since we have had crisis of different kinds. And the best thing African leaders must do, and leaders I don’t mean presidents or Prime Ministers, I mean leaders in their own right, like my brothers and sisters who play leadership roles in different ways and have been doing so in the past”.
“And the main thing is for us to invest in one another and thinking about one another’s well being so that we know whatever it takes to create a stable and sustainable Africa continent. But the continued or emergence spread of crisis like in Mozambique or Central Africa Republic, where when you are settling down on one, another one is coming up. We need peace. We must put in place good projects in every country. We have many to deal with.
According to President Kagame, “We can’t just switch off crisis or conflicts unless we invest in the root causes of these conflicts and this is a hard task. It’s a task you don’t achieve the result by being fortunate, but rather work the talk as well. Because we need everything whether at the AU Summit or other sub regional meetings to address problems, but it keeps going around.
On how the continent can achieve adequate vaccines for the continent, the Director General of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Tedros Adhanom said sharing of vaccines among countries must be promoted to address the pandemic in the short term.
“It’s not good enough that Africa has so far gotten only 1.5 percent of the total vaccines. The problem is, I think I have said it many times, it’s vaccine nationalism. It’s very difficult to find any diplomatic word for it. We have to say it straight. It’s vaccine nationalism and many even called vaccine apartheid and it also represents it. I think we need to have an honest discussion on this. We have challenges saying it this way, but saying the truth is important and when we come to the solution, I think the way out should be first and foremost agree on cooperation. The only way countries can engage each other is cooperation, competition and confrontation. But in this pandemic you cannot chose the two, competition and confrontation. Cooperation is key and it starts from sharing what is available. With cooopearyoon, we fight the common enemy everywhere. When we say share, it’s not charity, it’s actually in the interest of the whole world and developed world to share.”
The WHO DG added that Africans are better protected when they share than when they only try to protect their own people adding that the narrative of sharing has been stressed in the past two weeks, and this, he said, led the United States to announce the largest 80 million doses to share and many other countries like France, New Zealand,, Norway have also announced which he said will address the present critical challenge that we have now.