The global economic recession triggered by COVID-19 is hitting African countries hard. In 2020, 41 African economies experienced a decline in their gross domestic product (GDP). Although situations vary across the continent, this crisis has made clear that post-COVID strategies need to tackle two major obstacles to Africa’s long-term sustainable growth: dependence on external markets, and the incapacity of the formal economic sectors to create enough quality jobs.
The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), now open for business, provides a platform to accelerate productive transformation, create regional value chains and spur continental integration. Its effective implementation, however, depends on African economies’ capacity to create fiscal space and boost private investment in quality infrastructure and sustainable projects.
What are the key priorities for implementing the AfCFTA and accelerating Africa’s productive transformation? How can African governments strengthen their borrowing capacity and improve their debt management? How can bilateral and multilateral co-operation facilitate the process? The 2021 edition of the Forum will gather all key actors to share their views and solutions for action.
The Forum hosts Europe’s largest annual conversation on Africa’s ongoing, formidable transformation. It invites African and OECD policy makers, investors, academics, civil society and international organisations to share their views, and discuss how better policies can improve development outcomes for Africans and the world.
To host the Forum, the Government of Senegal, is teaming up with the Development Centre of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development; and the African Union, along with partners Casa Africa, le Cercle des Economistes, the French Development Agency (AFD) and the Sahel and West Africa Club (SWAC).
The debates will build on the findings of the recently launched Africa’s Development Dynamics 2021, a report by the African Union Commission, produced in collaboration with the OECD Development Centre.
Honourable speakers include:
- Macky Sall, President of the Republic of Senegal
- Andry Rajoelina, President of the Republic of Madagascar
- Toshimitsu Motegi, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan
- Angel Gurría, Secretary-General, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
- Moussa Faki Mahamat, President, African Union Commission
- Ibrahim A. Mayaki, Chief Executive Officer, African Union Development Agency (AUDA/NEPAD)
- Arkebe Oqubay, Senior Minister and Special Adviser to the Prime Minister of Ethiopia
- Wamkele Mene, Secretary-General, AfCFTA Secretariat
- Jean Hervé Lorenzi, President, Cercle des Economistes
- Rémy Rioux, Director-General, Agence Française de Développement
EU to support COVID-19 vaccination strategies and capacity in Africa
The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has announced today €100 million in humanitarian assistance to support the rollout of vaccination campaigns in Africa, which are spearheaded by the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC). Subject to the agreement of the budgetary authority, this funding will support the vaccination campaigns in countries with critical humanitarian needs and fragile health systems. The funding will, among others, contribute to ensuring the cold chains, roll-out registration programmes, training of medical and support staff as well as logistics. This sum comes on top of €2.2 billion provided by Team Europe to COVAX.
President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen said: “We’ve always been clear that the pandemic won’t end until everyone is protected globally. The EU stands ready to support the vaccination strategies in our African partners with experts and deliveries of medical supplies at the request of the African Union. We are also exploring potential support to boost local production capacities of vaccines under licensing arrangements in Africa. This would be the fastest way to ramp up production everywhere to the benefit of those that most need it.”
Janez Lenarčič, Commissioner for Crisis Management, said: “International vaccine solidarity is a must if we are to effectively address the COVID-19 pandemic. We are looking at ways to use our humanitarian aid and civil protection tools to help in the rollout of vaccination campaigns in Africa. Ensuring equitable access to vaccines for vulnerable people, including in hard-to-access areas, is a moral duty. We will build on our valuable experience in delivering humanitarian aid in a challenging environment, for example via the Humanitarian Air Bridge flights.”
Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, added: “Team Europe has stood by the side of our African partners from the onset of the pandemic and will continue to do so. We have already mobilised more than €8 billion to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic in Africa. We are strengthening health systems and preparedness capacities, which is absolutely key to ensure effective vaccination campaigns. And we are now exploring support through the new NDICI and how to leverage investments in the local production capacities through the External Action Guarantee.”
The EU also has a range of instruments at its disposal, such as the EU Humanitarian Air bridge, the EU Civil Protection Mechanism, and the EU’s humanitarian budget. These tools have been used extensively in the context of COVID-19 to deliver crucial material and logistical assistance to partners in Africa.
The Commission is also currently exploring opportunities to support African countries in the medium term to establish local or regional production capacity of health products, in particular vaccines and protective equipment. This support will come under the new Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI) and the European Fund for Sustainable Development plus (EFSD+).
The EU has been scaling up its humanitarian engagement in Africa since the onset COVID-19 crisis. A key of part of these efforts is the EU Humanitarian Air Bridge, which is an integrated set of services enabling the delivery of humanitarian assistance to countries affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The air bridge carries medical equipment, and humanitarian cargo and staff, providing humanitarian assistance for the most vulnerable populations where the pandemic imposes constraints on transport and logistics. The air bridge flights are fully funded by the EU. So far, almost 70 flights have delivered over 1,150 tons of medical equipment as well as nearly 1,700 medical and humanitarian staff and other passengers. Flights to Africa have aided the African Union, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea Bissau, Nigeria, São Tomé and Príncipe, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan.
DR Congo: Lives and futures of three million children at risk
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), on Friday, highlighted the dire situation of some three million displaced children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) who face brutal militia violence and extreme hunger.
Whole villages have been set ablaze, health centres and schools ransacked, and entire families – including children – hacked to death, in a series of merciless attacks in eastern DRC by fighters using machetes and heavy weapons, UNICEF said in a news release. Communities have been forced to flee with only the barest of possessions.
“Displaced children know nothing but fear, poverty, and violence. Generation after generation can think only of survival”, Edouard Beigbeder, UNICEF Representative for the DRC, said.
“Yet the world seems increasingly indifferent to their fate. We need the resources to continue helping these children have a better future.”
There are some 5.2 million displaced people in the DRC, about half of whom were displaced in the last twelve months, according to UN data. The overall figure includes about three million children.
Families forced from their homes and villages are compelled to live in crowded settlements lacking safe water, health care and other basic services. Others are taken in by impoverished local communities. In the most violence-afflicted provinces of Ituri, North Kivu, South Kivu and Tanganyika, more than 8 million people are acutely food insecure.
Sharp rise in violations against children
UNICEF’s report Fear and Flight: An uprooted generation of children at risk in the DRC, released on Friday, underscores the gravity of the crisis.
The report recounted testimony of children who have been recruited as militia fighters, subjected to sexual assault, and suffered other grave violations of their rights – abuses that registered a 16 per cent increase in the first six months of 2020 compared to the previous year.
However, delivering relief assistance to populations who have been displaced is complex, and often hampered by insecurity and a weak transport infrastructure.
A rapid response programme directed by UNICEF with partner NGOs offers a temporary solution, providing tarpaulins, cooking utensils, jerrycans and other essentials to nearly 500,000 people in 2020, said the UN agency.
According to Typhaine Gendron, the Chief of Emergency for UNICEF in DRC, such emergency distributions help deal with the “immediate shock” of being displaced. They are also part of an integrated response that looks to address a family’s broader needs in health, nutrition, protection, water and sanitation (WASH), or education, she added.
Additional funds desperately needed
While the volatile security situation is a major concern for aid workers and UNICEF personnel engaged in the humanitarian response, additional funds are also desperately needed. UNICEF’s 2021 humanitarian appeal for the country, amounting to about $384.4 million is only 11 per cent funded.
Without timely and adequate funding, UNICEF and its partners will not be able to provide critical services addressing the acute humanitarian needs of almost three million Congolese children and their families and protect and promote their rights, the agency warned.
UNICEF Representative Beigbeder stressed the urgency, “without sustained humanitarian intervention, thousands of children will die from malnutrition or disease, and displaced populations will not receive the basic lifesaving services they depend on.”
‘Triple threat’ adds to long-standing crises menacing food security in Somalia
Poor rainfall, flooding and desert locusts are contributing to extreme food insecurity in Somalia, threating 2.6 million people, the UN agriculture agency said in a new analysis released on Wednesday.
“Somalia’s long-standing crises are compounded now by the ‘triple threat’ of the COVID-19 pandemic, desert locust infestations and climatic shocks”, said UN Deputy Special Representative Adam Abdelmoula, who also serves as the Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for the country.
A cry for help
The report, compiled by FAO’s Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit, and the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET), highlights that desert locusts will continue to pose a serious risk of damage to both pasture and crops countrywide.
It also and cites forecasts that indicate an increased likelihood of below-average rainfall during the April-June season across most of the country that will further exacerbate food and nutrition insecurity for millions.
FAO and the Somali Government emphasized the urgency to increase support for ongoing desert locust control and surveillance efforts, and to provide rapid emergency assistance over the coming months.
“With the Government’s support, our teams and partners have maintained operations in control and surveillance, while delivering crucial humanitarian assistance and livelihood support during extremely challenging circumstances,” said Etienne Peterschmitt, FAO Representative in Somalia.
From July to December, an average of 1.8 million people per month received assistance in parts of Somalia.
While the large-scale humanitarian and Government support helped to minimize the magnitude of the crisis last year, funding is needed urgently to boost efforts to reduce new food insecurity currently threatening the country.
“Expanding the emergency response is crucial and underway, with a focus on interventions aimed at reducing food consumption gaps, saving lives, and protecting and preserving livelihoods,” said Mr. Peterschmitt.
According to the humanitarian assistance plan for the first quarter of 2021, some 1.6 million people are facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) – or worse.
Moreover, an additional 2.5 million people are Stressed (IPC Phase 2), bringing the total number of acute food insecure to 4.1 million, which includes approximately 840,000 under-age-five children who are likely to be acutely malnourished, nearly 143,000 of them severely so.
Pointing to a multitude of threats and crises in poor rural, urban and displaced populations, the joint assessment said that food insecurity is expected to deteriorate from April to June.
And FAO underscored that humanitarian assistance must be sustained through mid-2021 to prevent Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes for nearly 2.7 million people.
“We must continue to work with all humanitarian partners to ensure the most vulnerable Somalis are able to withstand the challenges and build resilience against future shocks,” said Mr. Abdelmoula, urging all partners to “work together across the humanitarian, development and peacebuilding paths” to address root causes and build lasting solutions that leave no one behind.
Implications of Right-Wing Politics in United States
US witnessed one of the tumultuous transition of power as the republicans shook the very roots of a model democracy...
The gender dimension must be included in the COVID-19 recovery plans
MEPs, national MEPs and high-level guests discussed women’s crucial role in leading the fight against the pandemic, in an interparliamentary...
New US Administration Approach to Syria: How Different Could It Be?
With the new US administration in the White House, there are rather lofty expectations about a change in the American...
Mental health alert for 332 million children linked to COVID-19 lockdown policies
The UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF, says the mental health of millions of children worldwide has been put at risk, with at least...
South Sudan’s transition from conflict to recovery ‘inching forward’
South Sudan’s transformation from conflict to recovery is underway, but much needs to be done before securing “a peaceful and...
Washington Ill-Prepared to Set Human Rights Agenda
It is evident that US Democratic President Joe Biden and his team will pay more attention to the human rights...
The global plastic problem
Global plastic pollution is becoming increasingly severe. According to a report by the German weekly magazine ‘Focus‘, plastic particles have...
Defense3 days ago
India – The US Promote National Defense – Security Cooperation
EU Politics3 days ago
EU and Armenia Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement enters into force
Defense3 days ago
India-Pakistan LOC peace
Americas2 days ago
Joe Biden and his first contradictory foreign policy moves
International Law2 days ago
Why states undermined their sovereignty by signing NPT?
Americas2 days ago
Biden’s Syria strikes don’t make him a centrist Democrat – they make him a neocon
Americas2 days ago
Charting an American Return to Reason: Nuclear Policy Goals on North Korea
South Asia2 days ago
Cease-Fire Review: A ray of hope