Ahead of the Conference of African Ministers of Finance and Economic Development, think tanks in the Committee of Experts Meetings have called on African leaders to nurture and mature plans for the production of Covid-19 vaccines on African soil by Africans.

This is contained in a press release issued by ECA communication commission last Friday March 19.

The experts challenged “…all relevant stakeholders including private sector to assist member states in putting in place strategies and policies to facilitate the production of vaccine on the continent”.

This, they believe will improve pooled procurement, affordability and accessibility, as well as boost job opportunities and industrial growth of Africa.

In a webinar with ECOSOCC stakeholders earlier this month, the Director of Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC Africa, Dr John Nkengasong declared that Africa is ripe for her own vaccine production with at least six countries in Africa currently manufacturing vaccines. These countries include South Africa, Senegal, Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco, with Nigeria and Ethiopia in the pipeline to join them.

In a series of meetings which held face-to-face and virtually throughout last week, the experts arrived at varied resolutions, hoping that they be translated to actions with the aid of the Economic Commission for Africa, ECA.

Among other issues, the Committee of Experts resolved that ECA should trump up advocacy to support the extension of Debt Service Suspension Initiative, DSSI until end of 2021 given that African economies have been hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

If this is secured, the think tanks hope that these funds will free up an additional USD 8 billion for Covid-19 recovery this 2021. The debts are largely owed by least developed African countries with slim post-Covid-19 survival chances.

Committee members also encouraged member states to work with ECA to strengthen the advocacy for a new issuance and re-allocation of Special Drawing Rights, SDRs especially to low and middle income countries which would fast-track development financing for these countries. The advocacy is already bearing fruits with G7 Finance Ministers throwing their support to the issuance of a new SDRs.

The committee was not indifferent about the African Continental Free Trade Area, AfCFTA. To this, committee members urged ECA to provide member states with necessary technical support, the AU Commission and the Secretariat of AfCFTA. The AfCFTA remains a veritable assets which will help propel Africa to the development of it’s agricultural sector, the industrialisation and the digitalisation process of Africa without having to seek alternative markets.

Without exhausting the plethora of issues discussed during this year’s Committee of Experts Meetings organised by ECA headed by its Executive Secretary, Vera Songwe, committee members lauded the great ideas of her team and efforts made at moving forward the African economies amid the corona virus outbreak.

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