‘38.7m Africans Could Slip Into Extreme Poverty’

Ken Ofori-Atta

FINANCE MINISTER Ken Ofori-Atta has indicated that about 38.7 million more Africans could slide into extreme poverty in 2021 while Africa’s external debt increased by some $37 billion, from $665 billion in 2019 to an estimated $702 billion in 2020 (World Bank).

He also said some 103 million jobs (corresponding to an average income loss of 10.7%) had been lost.

“African countries need at least $4.3 trillion, or $175 billion a year, to finance infrastructure projects that support economic growth; climate threat which threatened to cost the continent $7-$15 billion annually, although we account for less than 4% of global greenhouse gas emissions and receive just 5% of total climate finance outside the OECD (UNECA),” Mr Ofori-Atta, who disclosed this at the signing of  an MoU between Government and AfDB on the hosting of the group’s annual general meeting (AGM) in Ghana next year, said Ghana was prepared to host event.

Prof. Vincent O. Nmehielle, Secretary General of the AfDB Group, initialed on behalf of his outfit.

Prior to the signing of the MoU, a delegation from the bank’s head office in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, as part of preparatory meetings, came to assess the Ghana’s hosting facilities. The delegation toured selected health facilities as well as hospitality and accommodation facilities earmarked for the meetings.

“It is re-assuring to note that the team on the mission has been satisfied so far with the general preparedness of our country, and today’s MoU signing is yet another demonstration of our enduring commitment to the 2022 AGM,” Ofori-Atta noted.

The Minister alluded to the numerous challenges confronting the African continent and hinted that the 2022 annual general meetings would afford the opportunity for delegates and the bank to strategise and advance the cause to recover and build forward better.

Over the past 18 months, the Minister noted that they had called on the IMF to on-lend at least USD 100 billion of its new $650 billion in special drawing rights (SDRs) to Africa, advocated for the establishment of an African Liquidity and Sustainability Facility (LSF) to protect the continent against external shocks.

Others included, leading the charge for developed nations to end vaccine nationalism, and rather work to ensuring COVID-19 vaccines are given to at least 60% of the African population; and advocated for resourcing the AfDB to position it as the catalyst for Africa’s economic advancement.

Despite the gains made, Mr. Ofori-Atta indicated, however, that a lot needed to be done going into the 2022 Annual Meetings, as Africa was still in the eye of the “proverbial storm”.

adding that Africa needed to also vaccinate at least 900 million people to reach WHO mandated 70% herd immunity”.

The Secretary General of the African Development Bank Group, Prof. Vincent O. Nmehielle on his part revealed that on 13th November, 2020, the Ghana Government and AfDB Group signed an MoU for the hosting of the 2021 Annual Meetings, with the hope that the health situation would have allowed for physical annual meetings.

The meetings format was, however, changed from physical to virtual due to the persistence of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Owing to this, the Boards of Governors at the sitting of the 56th annual meeting of the African Development Bank and the Forty-Seventh Annual Meeting of the AfDB, resolved to extend the current cycle of hosting annual meetings to 2022 to enable the Ghana host the 2022 annual meetings of the bank group.