AfDB Moves To Save Africa • To Develop Covid Vaccine

Leaders of the West African region went home smiling at the close of the 59th Ordinary Session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

This was when the African Development Bank (AfDB) announced plans to support the development of vaccines for the fight against the dreaded coronavirus (covid-19) pandemic on the continent with an amount of $22million.

The announcement was made by President of the Bank, Akiwumi Adesina, when he addressed the Summit on Saturday.

In a communiqué after the Summit, the Authority commended the African Development Bank Group for launching the facility to support African countries, including member countries of the ECOWAS region, to address the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, and also for its support to the G5 Sahel countries aiming at strengthening national health systems.

It also commended the Bank for its support of $22 million to the West Africa Health Organization (WAH0) and recognised the proposal of the AfDB to develop an African Financial Stability Mechanism to protect the continent against external and internal shocks, as well as a Security-Indexed Investment Bonds to leverage resources on the global capital markets to reinforce security in the ECOWAS region.

It has since called on the AfDB to work with the ECOWAS Commission to develop the Investment Bonds and asked the AfDB to support quality health care infrastructure and develop pharmaceutical industries in ECOWAS countries, including the manufacture of vaccines.

The Authority reaffirmed its commitment to the promotion of peace, security, and stability in the region as prerequisites for the economic integration and development of the region.

It however reiterated concerns over the crisis in Mali in the context of security challenges related to terrorist attacks and the Covid-19 Pandemic with its dire socio-economic impacts.

The ECOWAS leaders however commended the Report submitted by former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, the ECOWAS Special Envoy and Mediator to Mali, sequel to his mission to Mali from 8th to 9th June 2021 to engage stakeholders on the decisions taken by ECOWAS Authority during its Extraordinary Summit held on 30th May 2021 in Accra, Ghana.

They however took note of the appointment of a civilian Prime Minister and the formation of a new Government and the commitment of the Transition Authorities to respect the electoral timetable which includes the organisation of a Presidential Election in February 2022.

The Authority was also informed of the Monitoring Mechanism that will be put in place to ensure that the electoral timetable unveiled on 15th April 2021 are strictly adhered to.

It therefore instructed the President of the Commission to ensure effective functioning of the Mechanism and implementation of the measures contained therein.

With the seeming positive development in Mali, it has decided to remain seized of the political situation in that country.

They however had cause to express concern with the security situation in the Region, thus reaffirming their determination to relentlessly combat the scourge of terrorism, and strongly condemned the recurrence of terrorist attacks in frontline countries, namely Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, and Nigeria whilee expressing olidarity with the affected Member States and populations.

They equally noted with concern the destabilising effect of the operations of mercenary groups from Libya and called for a concerted international action aiming at urgently resolving this issue, involving the disarmament of the mercenary groups.

To that end, they stressed the need to enhance the optimization of synergies among the various security, defence, and intelligence agencies across ECOWAS region in order to facilitate swift and appropriate responses to existing and emerging threats.

To this effect, the Authority endorsed the establishment of a permanent Forum of West African National Security Advisers and directs the President of the Commission to ensure effective functioning and proper coordination and complementarity with the existing ECOWAS defence and security committees.

The Authority reiterated its call on Member States to fully implement the measures adopted at national, regional, and continental levels to ensure maritime security and safety in the Gulf of Guinea.

It has since directed the President of the Commission to take appropriate measures, in consultation with Member States, to fully operationalize the ECOWAS Maritime Security Architecture.

Leadership also expressed concern over the worsening humanitarian situation in the region as a result of the terrorist attacks and effects of climate change. In that regard, the Authority reaffirms the need to strengthen ECOWAS humanitarian interventions and coordination with relevant humanitarian actors.

After a negative growth of 0.8% in 2020 linked to the negative effects of COVID-19, the Conference welcomed the recovery announced in 2021 with a projected GDP increase of 3.5% in 2021 and urged Member States to accelerate the implementation of economic stimulus programs and projects to support the ongoing recovery

It emphasised the need to implement sizeable financing plans for the economies of the Region to support recovery. In this regard, it welcomes the various initiatives underway, particularly the Paris Summit for the Financing of African Economies, as well as the G20 initiatives relating to the restructuring of the debts of developing countries.

It calls for the speedy implementation of these initiatives.

By Charles Takyi-Boadu