- Urges Africa to mobilise its $1.8trn sovereign wealth, pension, mutual funds to rescue continent
- Only shared collective global responsibility could help world build back better
While the International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates that the global cost in lost output due to the Covid-19 pandemic would hit a record $28 trillion, in Africa the pandemic has rather left a number of disparities and has laid bare in the continent
critical divides: health care divide, a fiscal divide, a gender divide, and a jobs and labour divide. Even before the onset of the virus, Africa imported 70 percent to 80 percent of pharmaceuticals, a situation worsened by the pandemic, said Akinwunmi Adesina, president of the African Development Bank (AfDB), while speaking at the Victoria Forum, Canada.
Additionally, surveys said, by the end of 2020, Covid-19 would cause a 1.4 percent drag in Africa’s GDP, with the continent’s smaller economies facing contraction of up to 7.8 percent. There would also be regional average of about 5 percent in public revenue losses in Africa, with total merchandise exports contracting by about 17 percent.
Still, Adesina stressed that for Africa to begin recovery from the Covid-19 effects, it must fully tap its natural resources and human capital. “We need to mobilize the domestic resources that we have—oil & gas, minerals, agriculture and biodiversity, and the institutional investors, sovereign wealth funds, pension funds and all the mutual funds that we have, in total about $1.8 trillion,” he said.
On way out of the pandemic, the AfDB president said: “How we come out of this pandemic, and the speed of our collective recovery, will depend on our shared collective global responsibility, to join hands to mobilize scientific and financial resources backed by strong political will.”
Meanwhile, Hakima El Haite, president of Liberal International, a global federation of liberal and progressive political parties, and Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, Canada, and George Furey, Canadian senator and current Senate speaker, who joined Adesina for a panel discussion, said, in the face of a global pandemic, it is more essential that everyone in government, business, academia and civic life draws upon their shared values to forge a path forward.
The panel discussion, which was themed, ‘Bridging Divides in the Wake of a Global Pandemic’, was convened by The Victoria Forum 2020, co-hosted by the Senate of Canada and the University of Victoria.
The Victoria Forum organises discussions to tackle global challenges under the leadership of the University of Victoria’s Gustavson School of Business in Canada.
Dowdeswell noted the gender-specific impacts of the Covid-19 crisis, referring to the economic slowdown as a “shecession.” She stressed the importance of evidence-based decision-making and effective communication by leaders; noting “we make progress at the speed of trust.”
Commenting on whether tackling Covid-19 eclipsed the fight against climate change, El Haite said both challenges were intertwined. “Nobody is talking about the fact that the pandemic is environmental in origin. We need to stick to implementation of Paris agreement,” she said.
Meanwhile, Adesina also emphasised the need to respond to climate change. “By next year, 40% of the African Development Bank’s portfolio will be in climate change, and 52% of that financing is in adaptation, because that’s the challenge in Africa, rather than mitigation.”